Materials adapted from the National Archives Teaching With Document Series. Jo Anne Gill 1993

PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUES

A propaganda technique is an improper appeal to emotion used for the purpose of swaying the opinions of an audience. The following propaganda techniques are common:

1. Bandwagon: This technique involves encouraging people to think or act in some way simply because other people are doing so. For example: "All your neighbors are rushing down to Mistri Motors to take advantage of this year-end sale. You come, too!"

2. Snob appeal: This technique involves making a claim that one should act or think in a certain way because of the high social status associated with the action or thought. For example: "Felson’s Furs – the feeling of luxury, for those who can afford the very best."

3. Vague, undefined terms: This technique involves promoting or challenging an opinion by using words that are so vague or so poorly defined as to be almost meaningless. For example: "Try our new and improved, all-natural product."

4. Loaded words: This technique involves using words with strong positive or negative connotations, or associations. Name-calling is an example of the use of loaded words. So is any use of words that are charged with emotion. For example: "No really intelligent voter would support his candidacy."

5. Transfer: This technique involves making an illogical association between one thing and something else that is generally viewed as positive or negative. For example: " The American pioneers worked hard because they cared about the future. If you can about the future of your family, then see your agent at Pioneer Insurance."

6. Unreliable testimonial: This technique involves having an unqualified person endorse a product, action, or opinion. For example: "Hi, I’m Bart Bearson. As a pro-football quarterback, I have to be concerned about my health. That’s why I take Pro-Ball Vitamin Supplements."

Avoid using propaganda techniques in your own speech and writing, and be on the alert for these techniques in the speech and writing of others. Look for these techniques when watching television or looking a published ads (magazines or newspaper).

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