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 Psychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1

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PostSubject: Psychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1   Sat 05 Dec 2009, 12:07 am


Psychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1

An old, now missing freerepublic post ^

| 31 August 1979
| Department of the Army

Posted on Friday, October 12, 2001 7:29:22 AM by Fixit


Techniques" is based upon "Appendix I: PSYOP Techniques" from
"Psychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1" published by
Headquarters; Department of the Army, in Washington DC, on 31 August
(from http://www.zoehouse.com/is/sco/proptech.html)

Knowledge of propaganda techniques is necessary to improve one's own
propaganda and to uncover enemy PSYOP stratagems. Techniques, however,
are not substitutes for the procedures in PSYOP planning, development,
or dissemination. Techniques may be categorized as:Characteristics of the content self-evident. additional
information is required to recognize the characteristics of this type
of propaganda. "Name calling" and the use of slogans are techniques of
this nature.Additional information required to be recognized. Additional
information is required by the target or analyst for the use of this
technique to be recognized. "Lying" is an example of this technique.
The audience or analyst must have additional information in order to
know whether a lie is being told.Evident only after extended output. "Change
of pace" is an example of this technique. Neither the audience nor the
analyst can know that a change of pace has taken place until various
amounts of propaganda have been brought into focus.Nature of the arguments used.
An argument is a reason, or a series of reasons, offered as to why the
audience should behave, believe, or think in a certain manner. An
argument is expressed or implied.Inferred intent of the originator.
This technique refers to the effect the propagandist wishes to achieve
on the target audience. "Divisive" and "unifying" propaganda fall
within this technique. It might also be classified on the basis of the
effect it has on an audience.
SELF-EVIDENT TECHNIQUEAppeal to Authority. Appeals to authority cite prominent figures to support a position idea, argument, or course of action.Assertion.
Assertions are positive statements presented as fact. They imply that
what is stated is self-evident and needs no further proof. Assertions
may or may not be true.Bandwagon and Inevitable Victory.
Bandwagon-and-inevitable-victory appeals attempt to persuade the target
audience to take a course of action "everyone else is taking." "Join
the crowd." This technique reinforces people's natural desire to be on
the winning side. This technique is used to convince the audience that
a program is an expression of an irresistible mass movement and that it
is in their interest to join. "Inevitable victory" invites those not
already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain
victory. Those already, or partially, on the bandwagon are reassured
that staying aboard is the best course of action.
Obtain Disapproval.
This technique is used to get the audience to disapprove an action or
idea by suggesting the idea is popular with groups hated, feared, or
held in contempt by the target audience. Thus, if a group which
supports a policy is led to believe that undesirable, subversive, or
contemptible people also support it, the members of the group might
decide to change their position.
Glittering Generalities.
Glittering generalities are intensely emotionally appealing words so
closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that they
carry conviction without supporting information or reason. They appeal
to such emotions as love of country, home; desire for peace, freedom,
glory, honor, etc. They ask for approval without examination of the
reason. Though the words and phrases are vague and suggest different
things to different people, their connotation is always favorable: "The
concepts and programs of the propagandist are always good, desirable,
Generalities may gain or lose effectiveness with changes
in conditions. They must, therefore, be responsive to current
conditions. Phrases which called up pleasant associations at one time
may evoke unpleasant or unfavorable connotations at another,
particularly if their frame of reference has been altered. Vagueness.
Generalities are deliberately vague so that the audience may supply its
own interpretations. The intention is to move the audience by use of
undefined phrases, without analyzing their validity or attempting to
determine their reasonableness or application.
Individuals or groups may use favorable generalities to rationalize
questionable acts or beliefs. Vague and pleasant phrases are often used
to justify such actions or beliefs.
Simplification. Favorable generalities are used to provide simple answers to complex social, political, economic, or military problems.
This is a technique of projecting positive or negative qualities
(praise or blame) of a person, entity, object, or value (an individual,
group, organization, nation, patriotism, etc.) to another in order to
make the second more acceptable or to discredit it. This technique is
generally used to transfer blame from one member of a conflict to
another. It evokes an emotional response which stimulates the target to
identify with recognized authorities.
Least of Evils.
This is a technique of acknowledging that the course of action being
taken is perhaps undesirable but that any alternative would result in
an outcome far worse. This technique is generally used to explain the
need for sacrifices or to justify the seemingly harsh actions that
displease the target audience or restrict personal liberties.
Projecting blame on the enemy for the unpleasant or restrictive
conditions is usually coupled with this technique.
Name Calling or Substitutions of Names or Moral Labels.
This technique attempts to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling
the object of the propaganda campaign as something the target audience
fears, hates, loathes, or finds undesirable.

  • Types of name calling:
    name calling is used when the audience is sympathetic or neutral. It is
    a simple, straightforward attack on an opponent or opposing idea.
    name calling is used when direct name calling would antagonize the
    audience. It is a label for the degree of attack between direct name
    calling and insinuation. Sarcasm and ridicule are employed with this
    -Cartoons, illustrations, and photographs are used in name calling, often with deadly effect.

  • Dangers inherent in name calling: In its extreme form, name calling may
    indicate that the propagandist has lost his sense of proportion or is
    unable to conduct a positive campaign. Before using this technique, the
    propagandist must weigh the benefits against the possible harmful
    results. It is best to avoid use of this device. The obstacles are
    formidable, based primarily on the human tendency to close ranks
    against a stranger. For example, a group may despise, dislike, or even
    hate one of its leaders, even openly criticize him, but may (and
    probably will) resent any non group member who criticizes and makes
    disparaging remarks against that leader.

Pinpointing the Enemy:
This is a form of simplification in which a complex situation is
reduced to the point where the "enemy" is unequivocally identified. For
example, the president of country X is forced to declare a state of
emergency in order to protect the peaceful people of his country from
the brutal, unprovoked aggression by the leaders of country.
Plain Folks or Common Man:
The "plain folks" or "common man" approach attempts to convince the
audience that the propagandist's positions reflect the common sense of
the people. It is designed to win the confidence of the audience by
communicating in the common manner and style of the audience.
Propagandists use ordinary language and mannerisms (and clothes in
face-to-face and audiovisual communications) in attempting to identify
their point of view with that of the average person. With the plain
folks device, the propagandist can win the confidence of persons who
resent or distrust foreign sounding, intellectual speech, words, or
mannerisms. The audience can be persuaded to identify its interests with those of the propagandist:

  • Presenting soldiers as plain folks. The propagandist wants to make the
    enemy feel he is fighting against soldiers who are "decent, everyday
    folks" much like himself; this helps to counter themes that paint the
    opponent as a "bloodthirsty" killer.

  • Presenting civilians as plain folks. The "plain folks" or "common man"
    device also can help to convince the enemy that the opposing nation is
    not composed of arrogant, immoral, deceitful, aggressive, warmongering
    people, but of people like himself, wishing to live at peace.

  • Humanizing leaders. This technique paints a more human portrait of US
    and friendly military and civilian leaders. It humanizes them so that
    the audience looks upon them as similar human beings or, preferably, as
    kind, wise, fatherly figures.

Categories of Plain Folk Devices:

  • Vernacular. This is the contemporary language of a specific region or
    people as it is commonly spoken or written and includes songs, idioms,
    and jokes. The current vernacular of the specific target audience must
    be used.
  • Dialect.
    Dialect is a variation in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary from
    the norm of a region or nation. When used by the propagandist,
    perfection is required. This technique is best left to those to whom
    the dialect is native, because native level speakers are generally the
    best users of dialects in propaganda appeals.

  • Errors. Scholastic pronunciation, enunciation, and delivery give the
    impression of being artificial. To give the impression of spontaneity,
    deliberately hesitate between phrases, stammer, or mispronounce words.
    When not overdone, the effect is one of deep sincerity. Errors in
    written material may be made only when they are commonly made by
    members of the reading audience. Generally, errors should be restricted
    to colloquialisms.
  • Homey words.
    Homey words are forms of "virtue words" used in the everyday life of
    the average man. These words are familiar ones, such as "home,"
    "family," "children," "farm," "neighbors," or cultural equivalents.
    They evoke a favorable emotional response and help transfer the
    sympathies of the audience to the propagandist. Homey words are widely
    used to evoke nostalgia. Care must be taken to assure that homey
    messages addressed to enemy troops do not also have the same effect on
    US/friendly forces.

If the propaganda or the propagandist lacks naturalness, there may be
an adverse backlash. The audience may resent what it considers attempts
to mock it, its language, and its ways.
Social Disapproval.
This is a technique by which the propagandist marshals group acceptance
and suggests that attitudes or actions contrary to the one outlined
will result in social rejection, disapproval, or outright ostracism.
The latter, ostracism, is a control practice widely used within peer
groups and traditional societies.
Virtue Words.
These are words in the value system of the target audience which tend
to produce a positive image when attached to a person or issue. Peace,
happiness, security, wise leadership, freedom, etc., are virtue words.
A slogan is a brief striking phrase that may include labeling and
stereotyping. If ideas can be sloganized, they should be, as good
slogans are self-perpetuating.
Testimonials are quotations, in or out of context, especially cited to
support or reject a given policy, action, program, or personality. The
reputation or the role (expert, respected public figure, etc.) of the
individual giving the statement is exploited. The testimonial places
the official sanction of a respected person or authority on a
propaganda message. This is done in an effort to cause the target
audience to identify itself with the authority or to accept the
authority's opinions and beliefs as its own. Several types of
testimonials are:
Official Sanction.
The testimonial authority must have given the endorsement or be clearly
on record as having approved the attributed idea, concept, action, or
belief. Four factors are involved:

  • Accomplishment. People have confidence in an authority who has
    demonstrated outstanding ability and proficiency in his field. This
    accomplishment should be related to the subject of the testimonial.

  • Identification with the target. People have greater confidence in an
    authority with whom they have a common bond. For example, the soldier
    more readily trusts an officer with whom he has undergone similar
    arduous experiences than a civilian authority on military subjects.

  • Position of authority. The official position of authority may instill
    confidence in the testimony; i.e., head of state, division commander,
  • Inanimate
    objects. Inanimate objects may be used in the testimonial device. In
    such cases, the propagandist seeks to transfer physical attributes of
    an inanimate object to the message. The Rock of Gibraltar, for example,
    is a type of inanimate object associated with steadfast strength.
Personal Sources of Testimonial Authority:

  • Enemy leaders. The enemy target audience will generally place great
    value on its high level military leaders as a source of information.

  • Fellow soldiers. Because of their common experiences, soldiers form a
    bond of comradeship. As a result, those in the armed forces are
    inclined to pay close attention to what other soldiers have to say.

  • Opposing leaders. Testimonials of leaders of the opposing nation are of
    particular value in messages that outline war aims and objectives for
    administering the enemy nation after it capitulates.

  • Famous scholars, writers, and other personalities. Frequently,
    statements of civilians known to the target as authoritative or famous
    scholars, writers, scientists, commentators, etc., can be effectively
    used in propaganda messages.
Nonpersonal Sources of Testimonial Authority:
ideologies, national flags, religious, and other nonpersonal sources
are often used. The creeds, beliefs, principles, or dogmas of respected
authorities or other public figures may make effective propaganda

Factors To Be Considered:

  • Plausibility.
    The testimonial must be plausible to the target audience. The esteem in
    which an authority is held by the target audience will not always
    transfer an implausible testimonial into effective propaganda.

  • False testimonials. Never use false testimonials. Highly selective
    testimonials? Yes. Lies (fabrications)? Never. Fabricated (false)
    testimonials are extremely vulnerable because their lack of
    authenticity makes them easy to challenge and discredit.
Incredible truths. There are times when the unbelievable (incredible) truth not only can but should be used. Among these occasions are:

  • When the psychological operator is certain that a vitally important event will take place.

  • A catastrophic event, or one of significant tactical or strategic
    importance, unfavorable to the enemy has occurred and the news has been
    hidden from the enemy public or troops.
  • The enemy government has denied or glossed over an event detrimental to its cause.

A double-cutting edge.
This technique has a double-cutting edge: It increases the credibility
of the US/friendly psychological operator while decreasing the
credibility of the enemy to the enemy's target audience. Advanced
security clearance must be obtained before using this technique so that
operations or projects will not be jeopardized or compromised.
Actually, propagandists using this technique will normally require
access to special compartmented information and facilities to avoid
compromise of other sensitive operations or projects of agencies of the
US Government.
Though such news will be incredible to the enemy
public, it should be given full play by the psychological operator.
This event and its significance will eventually become known to the
enemy public in spite of government efforts to hide it. The public will
recall (the psychological operator will "help" the recall process) that
the incredible news was received from US/allied sources. They will also
recall the deception of their government. The prime requirement in
using this technique is that the disseminated incredible truth must be
or be certain to become a reality. Insinuation.
Insinuation is used to create or stir up the suspicions of the target
audience against ideas, groups, or individuals in order to divide an
enemy. The propagandist hints, suggests, and implies,
allowing the audience to draw its own conclusions. Latent suspicions
and cleavages within the enemy camp are exploited in an attempt to
structure them into active expressions of disunity which weaken the
enemy's war effort.

  • Exploitable vulnerabilities. Potential cleavages which may be exploited include the following:
    - Political differences between the enemy nation and its allies or satellites. - Ethnic and regional differences. - Religious, political, economic, or social differences. - History of civilian animosity or unfair treatment toward enemy soldiers. - Comforts available to rear area soldiers and not available to combat soldiers. - People versus the bureaucracy or hierarchy. - Political differences between the ruling elite, between coalitions members, or between rulers and those out of power. - Differences showing a few benefiting at the expense of the general populace. - Unequal or inequitable tax burdens, or the high level of taxes. The audience should be informed of hidden taxes. - The scarcity of consumer goods for the general public and their availability to the various elites and the dishonest. - Costs of present government policies in terms of lost opportunities to accomplish constructive socially desirable goals. -
    The powerlessness of the individual. (This may be used to split the
    audience from the policies of its government by disassociating its
    members from those policies.) This technique could be used in preparing
    a campaign to gain opposition to those government policies.
  • Insinuation devices. A number of devices are available to exploit these and similar vulnerabilities:
    Leading questions: The propagandist may ask questions which suggest
    only one possible answer. Thus, the question, "What is there to do now
    that your unit is surrounded and you are completely cut off?"
    insinuates that surrender or desertion is the only reasonable
    alternative to annihilation. -
    Humor: Humor can be an effective form of insinuation. Jokes and
    cartoons about the enemy find a ready audience among those persons in
    the target country or military camp who normally reject straightforward
    accusations or assertions. Jokes about totalitarian leaders and their
    subordinates often spread with ease and rapidity. However, the
    psychological operator must realize that appreciation of humor differs
    among target groups and so keep humor within the appropriate cultural
    context. - Pure motives.
    This technique makes it clear that the side represented by the
    propagandist is acting in the best interests of the target audience,
    insinuating that the enemy is acting to the contrary. For example, the
    propagandist can use the theme that a satellite force fighting on the
    side of the enemy is insuring the continued subjugation of its country
    by helping the common enemy. -
    Guilt by association: Guilt by association links a person, group, or
    idea to other persons, groups, or ideas repugnant to the target
    audience. The insinuation is that the connection is not mutual,
    accidental, or superficial. - Rumor: Malicious rumors are also a potentially effective form of insinuation. -
    Pictorial and photographic propaganda: A photograph, picture, or
    cartoon can often insinuate a derogatory charge more effectively than
    words. The combination of words and photograph, picture, or cartoon can
    be far more effective. In this content, selected and composite
    photographs can be extremely effective. -
    Vocal: Radio propagandists can artfully suggest a derogatory notion,
    not only with the words they use, but also by the way in which they
    deliver them. Significant pauses, tonal inflections, sarcastic
    pronunciation, ridiculing enunciation, can be more subtle than written

Card stacking or selective omission.
This is the process of choosing from a variety of facts only those
which support the propagandist's purpose. In using this technique,
facts are selected and presented which most effectively strengthen and
authenticate the point of view of the propagandist. It includes the
collection of all available material pertaining to a subject and the
selection of that material which most effectively supports the
propaganda line. Card stacking, case making, and censorship are all
forms of selection. Success or failure depends on how successful the
propagandist is in selecting facts or "cards" and presenting or
"stacking" them.

  • Increase prestige. In time of armed conflict, leading personalities,
    economic and social systems, and other institutions making up a nation
    are constantly subjected to propaganda attacks. Card stacking is used
    to counter these attacks by publicizing and reiterating the best
    qualities of the institutions, concepts, or persons being attacked.
    Like most propaganda techniques, card stacking is used to supplement
    other methods.
  • The technique may also be used to describe a subject as virtuous or evil and to give simple answers to a complicated subject.

  • An intelligent propagandist makes his case by imaginative selection of
    facts. The work of the card stacker in using selected facts is divided
    into two main phases:
    First, the propagandist selects only favorable facts and presents them
    to the target in such a manner as to obtain a desired reaction.
    Second, the propagandist uses these facts as a basis for conclusions,
    trying to lead the audience into accepting the conclusions by accepting
    the facts presented.

Presenting the other side.
Some persons in a target audience believe that neither belligerent is
entirely virtuous. To them propaganda solely in terms of right and
wrong may not be credible. Agreement with minor aspects of the enemy's
point of view may overcome this cynicism. Another use of presenting the
other side is to reduce the impact of propaganda that opposing
propagandists are likely to be card stacking (selective omission).
Lying and distortion. Lying is stating as truth that which is contrary to fact. For example, assertions may be lies. This technique will not be used by US personnel. It is presented for use of the analyst of enemy propaganda.
This is a technique in which the many facts of a situation are reduced
so the right or wrong, good or evil, of an act or decision is obvious
to all. This technique (simplification) provides simple solutions for
complex problems. By suggesting apparently simple solutions for complex
problems, this technique offers simplified interpretations of events,
ideas, concepts, or personalities. Statements are positive and firm;
qualifying words are never used. Simplification may be used to
sway uneducated and educated audiences. This is true because many
persons are well educated or highly skilled, trained specialists in a
specific field, but the limitations of time and energy often force them
to turn to and accept simplifications to understand, relate, and react
to other areas of interest.(continued on next post)
Posted by: Give me Liberty [url=mailto://] ()[/url] *
09/26/98 13:07:05 PDT To: Give me Liberty
(continued from previous post)
Simplification has the following characteristics:

  • It thinks for others: Some people accept information which they cannot
    verify personally as long as the source is acceptable to them or the
    authority is considered expert. Others absorb whatever they read, see,
    or hear with little or no discrimination. Some people are too lazy or
    unconcerned to think problems through. Others are uneducated and
    willingly accept convenient simplifications.

  • It is concise: Simplification gives the impression of going to the
    heart of the matter in a few words. The average member of the target
    audience will not even consider that there may be another answer to the
  • It builds ego: Some
    people are reluctant to believe that any field of endeavor, except
    their own, is difficult to understand. For example, a layman is pleased
    to hear that '"law is just common sense dressed up in fancy language,"
    or "modern art is really a hodgepodge of aimless experiment or
    nonsense." Such statements reinforce the ego of the lay audience. It is
    what they would like to believe, because they are afraid that law and
    modern art may actually be beyond their understanding. Simple
    explanations are given for complex subjects and problems.

Stereotyping is a form of simplification used to fit persons, groups,
nations, or events into ready-made categories that tend to produce a
desired image of good or bad. Stereotyping puts the subject (people,
nations, etc.) or event into a simplistic pattern without any
distinguishing individual characteristics.

Change of pace is a technique of switching from belligerent to peaceful
output, from "hot" to "cold," from persuasion to threat, from gloomy
prophecy to optimism, from emotion to fact.
Stalling is a technique of deliberately withholding information until
its timeliness is past, thereby reducing the possibility of undesired
Shift of Scene.
With this technique, the propagandist replaces one "field of battle"
with another. It is an attempt to take the spotlight off an unfavorable
situation or condition by shifting it to another, preferably of the
opponent, so as to force the enemy to go on the defense.


An idea or position is repeated in an attempt to elicit an almost
automatic response from the audience or to reinforce an audience's
opinion or attitude. This technique is extremely valid and useful
because the human being is basically a creature of habit and develops
skills and values by repetition (like walking, talking, code of ethics,
etc.). An idea or position may be repeated many times in one message or
in many messages. The intent is the same in both instances, namely, to
elicit an immediate response or to reinforce an opinion or attitude.

  • The audience is not familiar with the details of the threat posed.
    Ignorance of the details can be used to pose a threat and build fear.
  • Members of the audience are self-centered.
  • The target can take immediate action to execute simple, specific instructions.

Fear of change.
People fear change, particularly sudden, imposed change over which they
have no control. They fear it will take from them status, wealth,
family, friends, comfort, safety, life, or limb. That's why the man in
the foxhole hesitates to leave it. He knows and is accustomed to the
safety it affords. He is afraid that moving out of his foxhole will
expose him to new and greater danger. That is why the psychological
campaign must give him a safe, honorable way out of his predicament or
The United States is absolutely opposed to the use of terror or terror
tactics. But the psychological operator can give a boomerang effect to
enemy terror, making it reverberate against the practitioner, making
him repugnant to his own people, and all others who see the results of
his heinous savagery. This can be done by disseminating fully captioned
photographs in the populated areas of the terrorist's homeland. Such
leaflets will separate civilians from their armed forces; it will give
them second thoughts about the decency and honorableness of their
cause, make them wonder about the righteousness of their ideology, and
make the terrorists repugnant to them. Follow-up leaflets can "fire the
flames" of repugnancy, indignation, and doubt, as most civilizations
find terror repugnant.
In third countries.
Fully captioned photographs depicting terroristic acts may be widely
distributed in third countries (including the nation sponsoring the
enemy) where they will instill a deep revulsion in the general
populace. Distribution in neutral countries is particularly desirable
in order to swing the weight of unbiased humanitarian opinion against
the enemy.
The enemy may try to rationalize and excuse its conduct
(terroristic), but in so doing, it will compound the adverse effect of
its actions, because it can never deny the validity of true
photographic representations of its acts. Thus, world opinion will sway
to the side of the victimized people. Friendly territory.
Under no circumstances should such leaflets be distributed in friendly
territory. To distribute them in the friendly area in which the
terrorists' acts took place would only create feelings of insecurity.
This would defeat the purpose of the psychological operator, which is
to build confidence in the government or agency he represents.

Section Index

The above sections may be referenced directly in urls, etc. <blockquote>


Additional links. Propaganda

logical fallacies

From: Give me Liberty [url=mailto://] ()[/url] *
09/26/98 13:08:19 PDT
To: -
More propaganda links. Propaganda

From: Give me Liberty [url=mailto://] ()[/url] *
10/12/98 13:21:14 PDT
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PostSubject: Re: Psychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1   Sun 20 Dec 2009, 6:40 am

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