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Six Tools for Managing Perception

 

Techniques Propaganda > Six Tools for Managing Perception

Atrocity accusations | Hyperbolic inflations | Demonization and dehumanization | Polarization | Divine sanction | Meta-propaganda | See also

 

In their excellent 'War and Anti-War', Alvin and Heidi Toffler describe six methods that are used in wartime propaganda (and sometimes in other circumstances). These principles, toned down perhaps, can be used in more everyday propaganda situations.

Atrocity accusations

Accuse the other side of committing acts of gross indecency and atrocities that will shock and show the enemy to be sub-human.

When values are broken badly, then this legitimizes extreme punishment and revenge.

Examples

  • Bombing a religious building or hospital.
  • Killing innocent victims, especially children.

Hyperbolic inflations

Exaggerate the things they believe or have done to make them particularly terrible. Use generalization to turn one instance into something that happens all the time, or that one person is representative of everyone in their group. Use emphasis to make key things stand out.

Examples

  • Taking the actions of one terrorist as representing the beliefs of everyone they claim to represent.
  • Describing injuries as 'horrific' and 'mortal'.

Demonization and dehumanization

Make them appear as wholly bad in all ways, without hope of redemption or conversion. Frame them as evil animals who seek only to destroy that which we hold dear.

Examples

  • Comparing them with known 'demons' such as Hitler or Pol Pot.
  • Describing their actions as disgusting and abhorrent.

Polarization

Contrast what we and they believe, say and do. Show that they are not like us, putting them and us at opposite poles. Paint our people as glorious heroes, in sharp contrast to their evil villains

Examples

  • Talk about how our people love God whilst theirs worship the devil.
  • Contrast how they dress and how this is not like us.

Divine sanction

Claim that what you are doing is either required or aligned with higher powers. Show you are more religious and that the holy people are on your side (especially if both sides are of the same faith).

Examples

  • Reinterpret the scriptures to justify your actions.
  • Say you have conversed with God or a religious figure.

Meta-propaganda

Use propaganda about propaganda. Show how they make things up and are deliberately trying to deceive, whilst our messages are based on clear evidence.

If you can destroy one piece of propaganda then you shake belief in anything else they say. Meta-propaganda is hence particularly powerful.

Examples

  • Show they have control of the media.
  • Show video footage to support one's own claims.

See also

Amplification principle, Deception principle, Contrast principle

 

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