Each and every day we are subject to propaganda, yet many of us are oblivious to the fact that we are being manipulated so frequently. In light of compelling information and evidence which supports largely predictable outcomes, propaganda can be used to confuse, obstruct, and distract individuals and society from clearly understanding the issues at hand. As we face serious and interconnected challenges, it is important to understand the role propaganda plays in society.
Propaganda is a form of communication geared towards manipulating and influencing the mindset of individuals through a series of emotionally charged messages. It can be used to either promote certain causes or to negatively influence and persuade people to support various ideological positions. Propaganda is powerful because everyone is susceptible to it. Robert Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, author of the best-selling book Influence, outlines why people don’t realise they are being subject to propaganda: “In order to deal with it, we need shortcuts. We cannot be expected to recognise and analyse all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day. We do not have the time, energy, or capacity to process the information; and instead we must often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond without thinking when one or another of these trigger feature are present.”