Propaganda: How It Works and Why It Matters - A Guide to the Most Common Methods and Examples

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Propaganda: How It Works and Why It Matters - A Guide to the Most Common Methods and Examples

Propaganda is an idea, a fact, or an allegation that is spread deliberately by an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization to bolster/further/establish their cause or to weaken an opposing cause.

Propaganda is a means by which groups of people or population, in general, are forced to believe something which the initiator of propaganda wants them to believe.

It is a type of communication that tends to moulid their thinking or opinion about something or someone in order to derive financial or political benefits.

Historical Instances

The biggest ever successful propagandas are evident from the historical event of the Holocaust in which the Nazi parties successfully turned the whole nation against the Jews so much so that the mass Army agreed to kill millions of them.

Other examples are the eradication of Tutsis from Rwanda and the migration of North American natives.

All these instances are based on the propaganda movements of political leaders who successfully influenced the people to join hands with them in a negative cause which actually was made to appear positive by instilling greed and fake hopes in them.

Propaganda is not always a negative move. It can be used to achieve a positive result as well. It merely involves the exploitation of thoughts and opinions whether with a good or a bad intent. 

Means of Propaganda

The biggest source of propaganda is mass media which is currently ruled by digital media mainly internet and social media. It can be via films or movies, artwork, music, or speeches.


Propaganda is always tied to an agenda which is either political in nature or targets financial gains, for example, the use of propaganda techniques in advertisements.     

Most Common 7 Techniques of Propaganda

There are seven techniques of propaganda which are discussed below with illustrations:

  1. Glittering Generalities

It involves overrating something using acclamation and praise using an optimistic approach that reflects high morals and inspirational phrases to attract and tempt people.

For example, in a drink ad using words like “chocolaty, creamy and icy” or in a political propaganda using words like “we fight for a change” etc.

  1. Name Calling

Another technique is name-calling which involves trash talking the opponent’s using sarcasm. These days, memes and animations are used to perform this function.

  1. Testimonial

When famous persons like actors and actresses, sportsmen etc. are involved in the campaigns to influence their fans, for example, a famous cricketer appearing in Pepsi advertisement.

  1. Plain Folks

When great personalities or leaders disguise simple people by dressing in ordinary attire to look like the general population, in order to attract them towards a product or a purpose, they are said to play plain folks, for example, a politician presenting himself as an ordinary citizen standing in a queue for buying a sandwich etc.

  1. Bandwagon

The bandwagon is also a very popular technique of propaganda in which the people are influenced to do stuff just because others are doing the same.

Showing that a particular product has a high demand in the market just to attract people into buying it can be an instance of the bandwagon technique of propaganda.

  1. Transfer

It means attracting people towards a cause, product or a mission by using something they respect or are primarily attracted to.

It involves using a secondary thing to make people believe that they’re better than their competitors.

For example, a politician uses the country’s flag as a symbol of their campaign to show people that they’re the real deserving leader as compared to another politician that uses an arrow, which is a sign of violence.

  1. Card-stacking

The last technique of propaganda is card stacking which makes a thing appear better than others. This is done by making limited information available to the public so that they are not aware of the drawbacks of something.

A campaign in which all the achievements of a leader are highlighted where they don’t mention that the leader was imprisoned for committing a crime that involved moral turpitude or misconduct etc. is an example of card stacking.

Another instance is when for promoting a product all the positive reviews are published and the negative ones are omitted to show the people that the product is flawless.

Interesting Facts about Propaganda:

  • Charles Master man is the first initiator of propaganda. He initiated the propaganda for Britain after the 1st World War broke out.
  • Propaganda is the most important device for recruiting soldiers for almost all kind of war.
  • Many powerful people of different countries with specific agenda produced a lot of propaganda even before the war broke out. In fact, people believe that the propaganda is the main reason for the Second World War.
  • Governments of different countries still produce numerous propagandas for achieving their agenda.
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