Persuasion

Brain Facts

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Propaganda


Education is the propagation of a set of beliefs, or Propaganda. We call it "education" if we already believe in it, and "propaganda" if we don't. Beliefs are things known or believed to be true, as opposed to attitudes, which are evaluations of objects that we think about. Beliefs are important precursors to both attitudes and behavior, but are often used or created after the fact to defend attitudes and behaviors we already own.

We call the learning of knowledge education if we believe and agree with the advocacy, and we call it propaganda if we don't--especially if a discrepant belief system is advocated through a large-scale, mass media appeal. The first documented use of the word 'propaganda' was 1622, when Pope Gregory XV attempted to increase church membership by strengthening belief (Pratkanis & Aronson, 1992). The term now connotes mass persuasion attempts manufactured by political entities, which manipulate far more than mere belief. Nonetheless, central to both education and propaganda is the role of the fact, the statistic, the element of knowledge that the target believes to be true.

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