Adventures in Everyday

The Legitimacy Farm – 5.3/7

Analysis of the IPA techniques of propaganda


Transfer refers to the process of carrying over “the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere” to an act or policy (Delwiche, 2002, “Transfer”; c.f. Lee, & Lee, 1938). Delwiche gives the example of a politician ending a speech with a prayer in order to transfer the legitimacy and authority of the Christian faith to the politician’s agenda, further legitimizing the politician and the agenda.

But the psychological literature implies that something even more powerful may occur in cases like this. When a politician transfers religious authority to his or her platform, as in the previous example, religious individuals are more likely to identify with the politician and the platform. Identification, in the psychological sense, refers to one’s status as a member of a particular group being a defining characteristic of the individual. In the previous example of religious transfer, one may be more likely to see the politician as a member of their own religious group after the politician finishes a speech with a prayer. A study by Roccas et. al. (2006) found that high identification with one’s country, called national identification, may lead to a greater use of “exonerating cognitions” when such an individual is presented with information describing an injustice committed by their group towards an out-group (Roccas et. al., 2006). Exonerating cognitions are “creative cognitive mechanisms to protect their positive group identity” (p. 701), such as underplaying the severity of their group’s actions, adjusting the stereotypes of both their in-group and the out-group, and attributing their group’s behavior to extenuating circumstances. Exonerating cognitions, according to Roccas et. al., tend to be used most often when individuals see their in-group very positively (“glorification of the in-group,” p. 699), which, as we have seen, can be influenced by other techniques of propaganda (e.g., glittering generalizations). These exonerating cognitions serve to increase the legitimacy of a group, as well as policies and actions that it is responsible for. For instance, one who is highly identified with a group is likely to be motivated to justify the group’s prior injustices towards another group. This can be done through the stereotype adjustment cognition, resulting in stereotypes of increased negativity and homogeneity. Thus, one’s increased identity with a group, which can be elicited by transfer, may lead to the same effects as name-calling. That is, an increasingly negative impression of an out-group, which causes the increased legitimization of injustices committed towards that group.

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Table of Contents

1 Background

2 Abstract

3 Introduction

4 A Psychological Interpretation of the Propaganda Model

5 Analysis of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis Techniques of Propaganda

5.1 Name-Calling

5.2 Glittering Generalities

5.3 Transfer

5.4 Testimonial

5.5 Plain Folks

6 Discussion

7 APA-Style References

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