12 manipulation and propaganda tactics: So you won’t fall prey to them!
Although mass manipulation strategies go back a long time, they have been blatantly overused lately. The only way to be immune to these tactics and render them powerless over you is to be able to detect them while they are in use.
So, what are some of the most common manipulation and propaganda tactics?
1. Indirectly seed your message before you officially announce it.
A writer knows in advance how the story is going to unfold in order to insert clues early in the book. Do the same. You already know how you want your target group to behave. Seed those seeds early and harvest better chances of compliance. Meanwhile, when you officially announce your message, people will feel more at ease with it since your early seeds bred a sense of familiarity.
2. Utilize the power of emotion.
Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. Create fear and bypass logic that may be getting in the way of your end goal. Emotions, in general, are powerful and contagious. They can spread quickly within groups and guide the masses. Use words and images that trigger intense emotions. For example, call proof of vaccination ‘a passport’ or ‘freedom pass’ and show all the benefits of reclaiming freedom: holidays, partying, hanging out with friends and so on. For those who aren’t on board with you, offer images that induce fear, misery, pain and death. And when that fear kicks in, revert to the good life which comes with joining the bandwagon.
3. Use repetition.
Those of us who have expertise in hypnosis, know very well the power of repetition. When a message is repeated again and again, it becomes familiar and it mitigates reactions. Repeat a message or lie over and over again and it eventually becomes the truth. So, be generous with your repetitions and don’t hold back. Start bombarding your target group with your message and keep on bombarding them at every opportunity.
4. Use ‘experts’ to give your message more prestige.
Give your message added credibility and clout by recruiting ‘experts’ that put their stamp of authority on it. If those experts are trusted by your target group, their influence will be considerable. An expert’s trustworthiness will render the message trustworthy as well. However, the key word here is trust. If trust is compromised, your message will be discredited and all your efforts will be in danger.
5. Use people with whom your target group can identify.
We are more favourably disposed towards like-minded individuals and with those we can identify. Recruit people who are respected and liked by your target group; people who are perceived as ‘one of them’. We are likely to listen to and follow those who seem to be similar to us. The positive feelings attached to these people will be transferred to the message and that alone will mitigate a negative response to what is suggested.
6. Encourage one small step at a time.
Slow and steady wins the race. It is easier to accept gradual changes. Encourage minimal steps that are easily accomplishable and are viewed as less threatening. If you could get them to engage in one small action that is contrary to their beliefs, even better. When that happens, cognitive dissonance kicks in. Believing in one thing and doing the opposite results in mental discomfort. In order to ease the unease that results from that inner conflict, they will rationalize the decision they’ve made and find a way to convince themselves that they have taken the right action. Congrats, you’ve just turned them into supporters!
7. Tell them that the majority follows your steps.
When we feel uncertain, we tend to look to others for answers as to what to do. Couple that with the need to fit in with others as well as to do the right thing and you can understand the impact of mass psychology. All you need to do is convince them that the majority are following your lead and they are more likely to follow the crowd. After all, if everyone else does it, it must be a good thing and they probably have a better grasp on matters. Right?
8. Engage in selective information.
Offer your side of the story, don’t mind if it isn’t the whole truth. Be selective in the information you share; emphasize the positives of your message while conveniently omitting the rest, choose half-truths, use vague words that have double meanings, tweak the facts or outright deceive. The means justify the ends.
9. Divide and Conquer.
All that matters is winning. If you see no compliance (some will reframe it as unity) and your sovereignty is challenged, proceed with a time-tested strategy: divide and conquer. Divide people, create opposing groups and give power to the one that supports you. Create a sense of life and death situation and let them lead a crusade against the rest. You know have a mutual enemy. Sit back and let them do the work for you. While you’re at it, label the groups who are unwilling to comply. Name-calling is permitted. How are we currently labelling those who dare have different opinions?
10. Don’t offer alternatives.
Nothing much to say here other than keep it simple and make it clear that there are only two options. They are either with you or against you. You are the truth and the only way reasonable way to go. Benefits will come only as a result of one route. And that’s that! This type of black or white thinking also helps divide groups and is a good precursor to the divide and conquer strategy.
11. Change a generally accepted truth to suit your needs.
Take a generally accepted truth and change its meaning completely to suit your needs. Keep it current. For example, fake news is a real issue. No doubt about that. Take fake news, slap it around, distort it and … fake news is now every opposing view. Hence, those who are not in accord with you are distributing fake news and must be stopped for the greater good. It is of little importance, if some of the so-called fake news hold more truth than the official story being told. What’s important is winning.
12. Create the problem first, offer a solution later.
Create the problem and then offer your solution. Do you have a solution you want to become widely accepted? Create a problem and wait until it starts causing pain. When people start suffering and are pleading for help, show up like a deus ex machina with your solution at hand. You know, the solution that inspired the problem creation in the first place.
One can comprehend how dangerous these tactics of influence can be when combined with lack of ethics. These manipulation strategies – and many more which have not been covered – are powerful and effective UNLESS you can detect them while they are in use. Catching them in the act brings their power down and enhances yours.