http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/546409/postsPsychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1An old, now missing freerepublic post ^
| 31 August 1979
| Department of the Army
Posted on Friday, October 12, 2001 7:29:22 AM
by FixitPROPAGANDA TECHNIQUES
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
1979 (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.
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.
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.
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. Rationalization.
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. Transfer.
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.
Pinpointing the Enemy:
- 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.
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
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
- 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
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. Slogans.
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.
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:
Personal Sources of Testimonial Authority:
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,
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.
Nonpersonal 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.
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
testimonials. Factors To Be Considered:
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.
TECHNIQUES WHICH ARE BASED ON CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CONTENT BUT WHICH
REQUIRE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE PART OF AN ANALYST TO BE
There are times when the unbelievable (incredible) truth not only can but should be used. Among these occasions are:
A double-cutting edge.
- 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.
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
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,
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.
Card stacking or selective omission.
- 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
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
Presenting the other side.
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
- 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.
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. Simplification.
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. CHARACTERISTICS OF CONTENT WHICH MAY BECOME EVIDENT WHEN NUMEROUS PIECES OF OUTPUT ARE EXAMINEDChange of Pace.
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.
Stalling is a technique of deliberately withholding information until
its timeliness is past, thereby reducing the possibility of undesired
impact. 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. REPETITION
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.
Fear of change.
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.
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 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>
| accomplishment_technique |
</blockquote> Additional links. Propaganda
- Propaganda Analysis Home Page
(Nicely done site. Also information on The Institute for Propaganda Analysis)
- Propaganda and Psychological Warfare - Research Resource
(Lots of links.)
- Army Field Manual 33-1, Psychological Operations, August 1979
(only part of this manual.)
- PROPAGANDA PLANNING PROCESS
(Another bit of FM 33-1, this time chapter 12.)
- PSYOPs LESSONS LEARNED
- PSYOP, MILITARY
(Links, interesting pages.)
- Psychological Operations and the Verbiage of War
(A study on how propaganda and psyops were used against David Koresh, the Waco children and church.)
From: Give me Liberty
- An Index of Logical Fallacies
textbook. Often useful in clarifying disussions. Each fallacy listed
has its own page, examples, references. From Canada.)
- A Guide to the Fallacies
textbook. Includes information on common rhetorical devices, too. Very
nicely done. Each fallacy listed has its own page, examples,
references. n.b. "Reefer Madness" fallacy quiz at that site, points out common fallacies often bedeviling otherwise critical thinkers. From New Zeland.)
[url=mailto://] ()[/url] *09/26/98 13:08:19 PDT To: - More propaganda links. Propaganda
From: Give me Liberty
- The ACCESS INDIANA Teaching & Learning Center Propaganda
(lots of links, various teacher lesson plans for grades 5-12)
- Propaganda techniques Widely Used To Influence Public Opinion
(propaganda: how does it affect you?)
- Propaganda Techniques Related to Enviromental Scares
that help explain how reasonable people can conclude that they have
suffered toxic exposures and injuries when they have not")
- HCI Tactics and Nazi Tactics
(comparison of Nazi propaganda techniques and those used by the anti-gun groups)
- Proverbial Manipulation in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf
(slogans, phrases, and proverbial expressions ... "politische Phrasenvernebelung", political smoke-screen of phrases)
[url=mailto://] ()[/url] *10/12/98 13:21:14 PDT