Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion / Edition 1

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We live in an age of propaganda. Americans consume 57% of the world's advertising while representing only 6% of the population, and half of our waking hours are spent with the mass media. Persuasion has always been integral to the democratic process - it's how we make decisions, elect governments, do business, and resolve disputes, but increasingly, thoughtful discussion is being replaced with simplistic sound bites, manipulative messages, and deceptive propaganda tactics.

An eye-opening analysis of the use and abuse of persuasion in daily life, Age of Propaganda reveals how persuasion influences our behavior, which propaganda strategies are most commonly used today, and why some techniques work better than others. Drawing on the history of propaganda and modern research in social psychology, the authors show how the tactics used by political campaigners, sales agents, advertisers, televangelists, demagogues, and others, often take advantage of our emotions by appealing to our deepest fears and most irrational hopes, creating a distorted vision of the world we live in.

Thoroughly revised and updated, this new edition of Age of Propaganda includes coverage of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, recent election campaigns, the rise of talk radio, teen suicide, U.F.O abductions, the Columbine shootings, and novel propaganda tactics based on hypocrisy and false allegations. Also included is a completely new chapter on how to protect yourself from unwanted propaganda.

An invaluable guide to today's message-laden world, Age of Propaganda provides us with the knowledge we need to understand how manipulative messages work, how to deal with them sensibly, and how to use persuasion wisely and effectively.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Psychologists Pratkanis and Aronson present a thorough overview of how individuals and the mass media manipulate us using devious persuasive techniques. In order to understand how and why we are persuaded, the authors analyze the various tactics people use to get us to comply; point out ways we might deal sensibly and effectively with propaganda; and examine persuasion in a context of argument and debate. The authors' quarrel with persuasive communication today is that, rather than using logical argument, it uses emotional symbols to manipulate us. Advertisers, for example, use short, catchy, visually oriented messages to get us to buy things we might not need. Pratkanis and Aronson skillfully summarize research findings from the field of social psychology to illustrate their points. While a large portion of the book is devoted to advertising techniques, the authors also examine media coverage of the Gulf War, cult leaders, and political elections. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fre donia Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780716722113
  • Publisher: Freeman, W. H. & Company
  • Publication date: 12/28/1991
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.91 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Pratkanis is professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Elliot Aronson is one of our nation's most eminent social psychologists. He is professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Table of Contents

Why We Wrote This Book

1. Our Age of Propaganda


2. Mysterious Influence

3. Mindless Propaganda, Thoughtful Persuasion

4. The Rationalizing Animal

5. The Four Stratagems of Influence


6. Words of Influence

7. Pictures in Our Heads

8. Saddam Hussein: The Hitler of Baghdad?

9. A Questionable Persuasion

10. The Power of Decoys

11. The Psychology of Factoids


12. The Credible Communicator

13. Breakfast of Champions, Junk Food for the Self

14. How Do You Persuade If Everyone Knows You Are Untrustworthy, Unbelievable, and Disliked?

15. The Manufacture of Credibility

16. Prizefighter Slays 11 with One Look: The Influence of Mass Media Models


17. Packages

18. Self-Sell

19. Naked Attics and Neighborhood War Heroes: On Vividness in Communication

20. Why Do They Keep Repeating the Same Ads?

21. If You Have Nothing to Say — Distract Them

22. If You Want to Gain an Inch, Ask for a Mile — Sometimes!

23. Protagoras' Ideal: One-Sided Puffery versus Two-Sided Debate


24. The Fear Appeal

25. The Granfalloon Technique

26. Guilt Sells

27. What Is the Influence of One Flower Given?

28. The Committed Heart

29. To Practice What You Preach

30. The Psychology of Scarcity and the Mystique of Phantoms

31. Education or Propaganda?

32. What Is News?

33.On the Ineffectiveness of Information Campaigns

34. Subliminal Sorcery: Who Is Seducing Whom?

35. Persuasion Direct

36. How to Become a Cult Leader

37. Propaganda in the Third Reich: A Case for Uncertainty


38. Is Forewarned Forearmed? Or How to Really Resist Propaganda

39. Things We Can Do To Stop Propaganda in Its Tracks

40. Peitho's Children



About the Authors

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