intentional propaganda

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Introduction

You already have an opinion about abortion.  Even I do.  I chose such a difficult topic to force myself into the difficult position of analyzing a subject from positions that I don’t ordinarily consider.  The journey won’t be easy and I may fail, but this will be the beginnings of a dialogue that I hope to continue.  I am not unfamiliar to debate, having formally debated in community college.  Then and now, I needed to be prepared to argue both sides of the issues.  While the debates were all about winning a round, the ethics of abortion and its great divide of disagreement are more about understanding the core issues behind those arguments.  While both positions can be considered intentional propaganda, “the systematic propagation of information or ideas by an interested party, especially in a tendentious way in order to encourage or instil a particular attitude or response” (OED, 2009), I will not be looking at the propaganda in particular.  Instead, I will be looking at abortion arguments through three ethical approaches:  Purposes, Principles, and Consequences.  Throughout, I will challenge my readers as I challenge myself to refrain from the usage of familiar propaganda terms, “pro-choice” and “pro-life” that are the crude ethical symbolic language that is usually employed as descriptors.  However, be aware that both positions do and will employ propaganda tactics as we have all experienced.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Abstract

While propaganda in the form of unintentional influence and the language of sexism has been independently researched, a review of literature reveals no such studies that link these two topics.   In this paper, I link these two subjects to study the hypothesis that the language of sexism, embedded within media, unintentionally influences individuals and small groups.  Through participatory action research methodology, participants will take part in a series of focus groups analyzing sexist language within media contexts. Findings will indicate how media sexism influences individuals and small groups, what that influence means to the health of their local community, and what action should be taken to alleviate negative consequences.

 

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Hacker and Roberts open with what for me is a very prescient idea, the idea of victim-blaming in an organization, and indeed in most Western modern societies, rather than looking for solutions and rising to challenges that can teach one to be stronger.  Their John Stewart Mill quote speaks to current events in government that always seem to be current no matter the year, the decade, or the century, “A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes–will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.”  What have we wrought when each of our mind-sets chain us to ideas of a past and a present that we cannot, nay refuse to (r)evolvolve from?  Mind sets are formulated from life experiences, yes, as Hacker and Roberts indicate, but those same life experiences can force an individual to realize that change is necessary when it prohibits growth.

Yes, some mind-sets cannot be changed because people refuse to change but others are ready to change, forcing it, fearing it but welcoming it, or seeking it. Transformational leadership can and will exploit people in within their evolutionary stage to benefit the organization and the individuals involved, understand where each individual is, and what is best for that individual. Hacker and Roberts indicate the above and four additional mind-sets that inhibit growth, individuals concerned with self-image, the self-absorbed, and the detached and emphasize what is needed to jump start each individual’s evolutionary growth.  The process reminds me of the positive affirmations that I do each morning before meditation to start my day.

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(And so the saga continues as I wrassle with determining what a proper hypothesis.  The below is an indication of how far I have come and ow far I need to go.  But I am getting closer.) 

  1. Original Hypothesis:  Individuals and small groups are influenced by intentional sexist propaganda embedded in media texts that influence unintentional propaganda in conversational language.
  2. Alternative Hypothesis 1:  Implicit language in media texts will influence the behavior of individuals and small groups.
  3. Alternative Hypothesis 2:  Unintentional propaganda that occurs between individuals and in small groups is influenced by the language of sexism within everyday conversation embedded within media texts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Summary.  The authors present a reformulation of social influence theory as a taxonomy, decision tree, and glossary sorted through the basis of “Four Fundamental Interpersonal Influence Distinctions,” cognitive processing (conscious/unconscious), perceived intentionality, relative social status, and direction of change. (p. 715). The authors suggest that this reformulation suggests several directions for further research by asking as many questions as it answers.  Of particular personal interest in this summary is the perceived intentionality, specifically Unintentional Influence (imitation/antiimitation) that breaks down into indirect conformity, anticonformity, identification, disinhibitory contagion, and residual influence types.

Questions/Problems.  The authors explain that there are two areas where issues arise when distinguishing Social Influence from other topics in social psychology.  In fact, in most social psychology textbooks, social psychology IS social influence.  So the authors propose a definition that is more specific rather than broad to distinguish from sweeping generalities that do nothing more than using a concept to define a concept without really explaining anything.  That is the challenge of this new model of approaching the topic.  The authors also recognize another challenge:  distinguishing among concepts within a traditional sphere of social influence. There is no agreement among scholars regarding concepts, hence the basic reasoning for the authors’ new model.

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Introduction.  This study examines consumer body type affects the food eating habits of those around them adjusted for whether the influencer is overweight or thin and whether the person being influenced has high or low self-esteem.  The authors note that several authors point to a sedentary lifestyle and the high consumption of food as the main reason behind obesity, but little research has looked at how “food choices are shaped by those around us.” (p. 915).  The study hypothesizes that food choice is subject to interpersonal influences, and people choose larger or smaller portions after viewing another consumer choices.

Methods.  The three studies were conducted with pairs of individuals (one a confederate) who were invited to the lab to examine movie-viewing experiences. Two snacks were used based on weight and perceived healthiness or unhealthiness, granola and M & Ms. The confederates were outfitted with body suits in the cases where the study participants were overweight.  (p. 918) The dependent measure was the perceived weight of the snack food in relation to the body “type” of the study confederate.  The independent variables were the snack amounts taken and the confederate body type. This study was also augmented with a series of survey questions to determine how often study participants diet, if they eat sensibly in front of others and splurge alone, and if they feel guilt after over eating. (p. 918)

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Introduction.  The common misconception is that investors in stock markets, referred to as homo economicus at the beginning of the paper, are isolating individuals who do not gather in herds, and are thus not influenced by the herd.  However, homo sapiens do gather in herds and are influenced by other humans, whether it is sometimes beneficial and other times when it is not.  The research question here becomes, what is “the extent to which and how different types of social influence play roles in the investment process.” (p. 4).  While influence may be direct, where herding occurs, it may also be indirect, “common knowledge, fads, common investment strategies, and similar compensation schemes.” (p. 5)

Review of Research.  Much of the research centers around whether herding exists, whether it is rational or irrational, and what causes it. The literature has provided mixed results.  While some studies indicate that herding exists, other studies indicate that it does not exist.  (p. 5) Experimental studies research indicate that information that is provided by one’s actions is utilized by others.  Additional literature indicates that information cascades where investors ignore their private information and imitate others in the herd. Experiments are cited where the above information cascades end in expected results and other experiments result in an unpredicted “irrational” result. So the studies do not indicate one way or another whether there is any validity in the rationality or irrationality of the social influence of herding. (p. 6)

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