"How Propaganda Works"
Presenter: Rory Truex, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
Propaganda is the dissemination of biased or misleading information in favor of a particular political cause, party, or actor. In political science, there remains substantial debate as to how propaganda works, and whether exposure actually persuades target groups. This paper shows that a common form of ``hard" propaganda-- when an actor engages in obvious self-aggrandizement-- can shift implicit attitudes by pairing the actor with positive attributes. Experiments in the U.S. show that short propaganda clips improve respondents' implicit attitudes towards Donald J. Trump, and this effect is strongest for Democratic voters. A similar result holds among Chinese citizens in Hong Kong with a propaganda treatment from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Combined, the findings show the vulnerability of nondeliberative attitudes to misinformation and manipulation. Implicit associations are readily shifted by arguments with which a person disagrees.
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