An explanation of the social and psychological behaviour that allows propaganda to be effective.

Cognitive dissonance

Basically describes contradictory behaviour, perhaps a nutritionist knows that eating sugar is unhealthy, but indulges with cake at a special occasion.

This also works in the media. The Daily Mail newspaper often features outrage over paedophilia which all seems fine.


However, it also regularly objectifies young women and portrays them negatively as many publications have noticed.

So on one hand it preaches morality, then counters this by promoting explicit images of vulnerable women.

Fundamental attribution error

The media often puts excessive emphasis on internal motivations for a person's behaviour over external factors

Not many would blame a victim's relative seeking revenge on an attacker. In this scenario the relative's behaviour is influenced more by circumstances than values. The media can choose to provide context or merely attribute behaviour to a flaw in the individual - of course propaganda choose the latter.

This is the same simplistic argument that it is only flaws in an individual's moral compass that causes ISIS radicalisation for example. In reality there may be a myriad of reasons, perhaps a lack of ethics but also hypocritical mis-managed western foreign policy causing justified resentment.

The assumptions of fundamental attribution error are often made without research into motives, nuances and historical context - something the media rarely engage in because their agenda is to create establishment-friendly narratives i.e. Muslims are the threat and never mind the government surveying your data under the pretence of protection.

The Dunning-Kruger effect

Less intelligent people are more likely to be confident and respond to confident leaders who may or may not be intelligent.

This explains support for anti-immigration pro-big business party UKIP - although post-election they only have 1 seat.

Even their own candidates admit their voters are not well-educated.
UKIP are performing better in areas with little immigration even though this is their main issue.

My favourite blogger wrote about this in detail

Parkinson's law of triviality (AKA Bike-shedding)

Basically we'll spend more time on small matters than large complicated ones.

During elections, relatively unimportant gaffes and slip-ups get recycled while discussing the merits of austerity or who caused the global banking crisis go largely ignored.