Propaganda Education through Exposure to Authentic Content

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Abstract

In the aftermath of an insurrection, the role of propaganda garners more attention as Americans begin to confront the destabilizing and radicalizing effects that a sustained propaganda campaign can have on an anxious public. Given the potential for an even greater resurgence in the use of propaganda, this study examined an inoculation-based treatment designed to increase propaganda education in just ninety minutes. The treatment targets the use of common propaganda techniques in contemporary political rhetoric by exposing the message receiver to instances of these techniques in authentic use. The treatment is designed to elicit motivation and prompt analytical skill building aimed at increasing one’s ability to detect the usage of propaganda techniques. The results reveal a large effect size in propaganda detection accuracy for participants. In addition, the findings point to a robust effect unimpacted by the frequency of visits to the training site or the length of time spent in training beyond the ninety minutes, thus providing an impetus for follow-up research.