Propaganda Essay Research Paper PROPAGANDAPropaganda is an

Propaganda Essay, Research Paper


Propaganda is an attempt to influence opinion by presenting distorted, exaggerated, or untrue facts of information or facts in a way that will appeal to emotions or feelings rather than to reason. As generally understood, propaganda is opinion expressed for the purpose of influencing actions of individuals or groups.

Name Calling:

Name-calling is labeling thing and people without telling the facts. Bad names have played a powerful role in the history of the world and in our own individual growth. They have ruined reputations and also sent people to jail. They have been and are applied to other people, groups, gangs, tribes, colleges, political parties, neighborhoods, states, sections of the country, nations, and races.”

The name-calling technique links a person, or idea, to a negative symbol. The propagandist who uses this technique hopes that the audience will reject the person or the idea based on the negative symbol, or name, instead of looking at the available evidence. The name-calling technique was first identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) in 1938. According to the IPA, we should ask ourselves the following questions when we see an example of name-calling.

What does the name mean?

Does that person or idea have a connection with the real meaning of the name?

Glittering Generalities:

Glittering generalities are vague phrases that do not mean much or tell much. “We believe in, fight for, and live by virtue words about which we have deep-set ideas. Such words include civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, science, medicine, health, and love. For our purposes in propaganda analysis, we call these virtue words “Glittering Generalities” in order to focus attention upon this dangerous characteristic that they have: They mean different things to different people; they can be used in different ways.

When someone talks to us about a certain subject, we immediately think of our own definite ideas about that subject, the ideas we learned at home, at school, or in church. Our first and natural reaction is to assume that the speaker is using the word in our sense, that he believes as we do on this important subject. This makes us far less suspicious than we ought to be when the speaker begins telling us the things about it.

The Glittering Generality is, basically, Name Calling in reverse. While Name Calling makes us form a judgment to reject and criticize without examining the evidence, the Glittering Generality device seeks to make us approve and accept without examining the evidence. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggested a number of questions that people should ask themselves when confronted with this technique:

Is an idea that does not serve my best interests being “sold” to me merely through its being given a name that I like?

Leaving the virtue word out of consideration, what are the qualities of the idea itself?


Transfer is using symbols for something that they were not meant to be used for. Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, and reputation of something we respect to something he would have us accept. For example, most of us respect and revere our church and our nation. If the propagandist succeeds in getting church or nation to approve a campaign in behalf of some program, he thereby transfers its authority, reputation, and prestige to that program. Thus, we may accept something which otherwise we might reject.

In the Transfer device, symbols are constantly used. The cross represents the Christian Church. The flag represents the nation. Cartoons like Uncle Sam represent a consensus of public opinion. Those symbols stir emotions. At their very sight, is aroused the whole complex of feelings we have with respect to church or nation. A cartoonist, by having Uncle Sam disapprove a budget for unemployment relief, would have us feel that the whole United States disapproves relief costs. By drawing an Uncle Sam who approves the same budget, the cartoonist would have us feel that the American people approve it. Thus, the Transfer device is used both for and against causes and ideas.”


Testimonials is getting a well-known person to endorse a product or idea. There is nothing wrong with citing a qualified source, and the testimonial technique can be used to construct a fair, well-balanced argument. However, it is often used in ways that are unfair and misleading.

The most common misuse of the testimonial involves citing individuals who are not qualified to make judgments about a particular issue.

Unfair testimonials are usually obvious, and most of us have probably seen through this trick at some time or another. However, this probably happened when the testimonial was provided by a celebrity that we did not respect. When the testimony is provided by an admired celebrity, we are much less likely to be critical.

Plain folks:

?Plain folks? is pretending to be one of the common people. By using the plain-folks technique, speakers attempt to convince their audience that they, and their ideas, are “of the people.” The device is mostly used by advertisers and politicians. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis has argued that, when confronted with this device, we should suspend judgment and ask ourselves the following questions:

What are the propagandist’s ideas worth when separated from his or her personality?

What could he or she be trying to cover up with the plain-folks approach?

Band Wagon:

The basic theme of the Band Wagon appeal is that “everyone else is doing it, and so should you.” Since few people like to be left behind or left out, this technique can be quite successful.

Card stacking:

Presenting only the facts that favor one side. It may seem strange to suggest that the study of propaganda has importance to current politics. Since nothing comparable is being distributed in our society today, many believe that propaganda is no longer an issue. But propaganda can be as obvious or subtle. Its persuasive techniques are regularly applied by politicians, advertisers, journalists, radio personalities, and others who are interested in influencing human behavior. Propagandistic messages can be used to accomplish positive social ends, as in campaigns to reduce drunk driving, but they are also used to win elections. With the growth of communication tools like the Internet, the flow of persuasive messages has been dramatically increased.


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