The following article will guide you about how to protect people from the clutches of propaganda.
As we know many propagandas are undesirable and unnecessary and should be avoided. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis held that if the public could be taught how to recognise propaganda, the public would be immune to its effects and would react more rationally.
Many studies and other evidences from day to day life show that thinking and perception of people have changed in buying habits. They have also learnt to differentiate between sound and unsound judgement. But people are basically influenced by propaganda when it is made to touch the unfulfilled needs.
Since it is not possible to fulfil ail human needs, propaganda is sure to influence people. However, to make people immune from the effects of propaganda, education is essential which enlightens the mind, increases knowledge, reasoning and scientific rational judgement.
Besides by providing aggressive counter propaganda the influence of propaganda may be reduced. In this, an attempt should be made to induce the beliefs and attitudes we want rather than allowing the propagandist to induce beliefs and attitudes he wants.
By this truth can triumph over falsehood. Thirdly, by substituting emotional needs and larger belief systems that are responsible for wrong propaganda, one can be less susceptibility to propaganda. Because of some emotional needs and unfulfilled desires we respond readily to propaganda. But if one gets substituted satisfaction of such desires propaganda can be avoided.
Some studies have been conducted to examine how far the above methods can decrease the susceptibility to propaganda. One study was conducted by Priddle (1932), he presented a lesson to High School students which encouraged to take a more critical and reasoned view towards social problems.
They were subjected to propaganda through some editorials and speeches. Finally, when they were tested for their susceptibility to propaganda, it was found that they showed increased resistance to propaganda. But in another study Collier (1944) observed that propaganda training has very little value in immunizing the individual against propaganda effect (Kretch and Cruthfield).
From the results of Collier’s study, it appears that even though people may be warned against propaganda, may spend some time studying its characteristics etc., their beliefs and attitudes, cannot still be stopped by the propaganda if such propaganda fits in with existing frame of reference.
Colliers further criticises Briddle’s conclusion on the grounds that propaganda materials used might have been inadequate and hence ineffective for the reason that in real life people are exposed to the same propaganda repeatedly over a long period while in Briddle’s experiment the subjects were exposed to propaganda only once.
Secondly, he argues that Briddlers study dealt with the issues that were probably not central to the personality structure of high school students. Collier’s study, therefore, indicates that propaganda training has very little value in immunizing the individual against the value of propaganda.
Annis (1941) studied the relative effectiveness of cartoons and editorials in changing attitude of college and high school students. What Annis found was that cartoons were more effective for school children and editorials more effective for college students.
Ascher and Sergeant made another study about the effectiveness of argument accompanied by complimentary and non-complimentary cartoons. Arguments accompanied by complimentary cartoons were more responsible for bringing more change in attitudes and beliefs. Finally, when the arguments were related to various socially significant matters like politics and socialism etc. more shift in the judgement among college students was observed.
Cantril and Allport studied the relative effectiveness of listening to radio, speeches and by reading out materials. They found that when the material was very difficult and complex auditory representation was not very effective. The public should be given chance to perceive the materials or ideas through self reading.
In another study, Knower suggested that face to face or immediate personal appeal is more effective in making some body immune to propaganda.
In sum, one can hold that those factors which are responsible for making propaganda effective can also be used to counter propaganda. Immunity to propaganda can be developed through the use of education, rational thinking and critical analysis of the situation without the use of bias, suggestion and personal appeal.
However, nobody can be hundred per cent free from the clutches of propaganda as propaganda is based on personal and social needs. Since nobody can ever fulfil all his needs, desires and wishes, propaganda must influence people. But the effect of irrational motive based propaganda can be reduced.