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Age of Propaganda summary

Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson

The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion

3.9 (74 ratings)
22 mins

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'Age of Propaganda' by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson explores how propaganda and persuasion is used to manipulate public opinion and behavior. It provides insights into the techniques used and how to defend against them.

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    Age of Propaganda
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    Persuasion is built on rational thought and the weighing of different perspectives.

    People are constantly trying to sway others’ decisions in one direction or another. But this isn’t always as nefarious as it sounds; by using persuasive techniques to influence decision making, these people are offering us the opportunity to make informed choices grounded in facts.

    Such persuaders intend to offer people enough information on the issue at hand to allow them to make a rational choice. A typical persuasion technique is to state both an argument and a counterargument, only to immediately disprove the counterargument based on facts to support one’s case.

    In this way, persuasion is often a result of long discussions in which one person’s opinion actively transforms as a result of another person making a stronger case for his perspective. It’s clear to the persuaded person that his opinion has been changed and he’s comfortable with that.

    This manner of argumentation is based on the central route of information processing, which transfers information through detailed argumentation and is crucial to successful persuasion.

    People who are persuaded centrally are ready to receive information-dense messages. They’re not interested in any old information, but would rather take their time weighing the strengths and weaknesses of different positions.

    Because of this focus, such people are fully concentrated on the message they’re discussing, and they thus devote all their mental faculties to understanding the message, as well as their own opinions on the issue. When arguments are made in this way, people are capable of making educated decisions by assessing information from different sources.

    However, not all arguments are made in such a straightforward way. In the following blinks, you’ll learn about another widely used technique of persuasion that’s not nearly as fair; it’s called propaganda and you can find it just about everywhere you look.

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    What is Age of Propaganda about?

    Age of Propaganda (2001) is an in-depth look into the world of deception that is propaganda. These blinks will walk you through the different techniques propagandists rely on to successfully change people’s opinions and show how these tactics have become part of your everyday life.

    Who should read Age of Propaganda?

    • Students of psychology and marketing
    • Consumers of all walks of life
    • Advertising professionals

    About the Author

    Anthony Pratkanis is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz as well as an advertising and political consultant. He is a coauthor of Weapons of Fraud: A Source Book for Fraud Fighters, among other titles.

    Elliot Aronson is one of the 100 preeminent psychologists of the twentieth century and the recipient of many awards, including the William James Award for Lifetime Achievement, awarded by the Association for Psychological Science.

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