Political Psychology, PS 474, Dr. Peffley

Written Assignment No. 1, 2010, Due April 6


Exposing Political Propaganda


I.The Assignment

         Propaganda is everywhere and one of the reasons Pratkanis and Aronson wrote their book, Age of Propaganda, is to help us recognize when and how propagandists are trying to manipulate us. Your assignment is to write a memorandum where you pick a political propagandist on the left or the right and analyze their messages to expose what strategies of persuasion discussed by Pratkanis and Aronson your chosen propagandist uses.Address your memorandum to a nonpartisan group like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, or some other comparable organization.


         What propagandists? Pick one on the RightóGlenn Beck, Bill OíReilly, or Sean Hannity (all on Fox News), or the LeftóKeith Olbermann, Rachael Maddow (MSNBC), Jon Stewart or Steve Colbert (Comedy Channel).(Note: You can choose someone else, but s/he must first be approved by me, and they canít be covered in Age of Propaganda (e.g., no Rush Limbaugh and donít rip off the authorsí analysis of Rush in the book).For examples of your propagandistís messages, try YouTube, Fox News, MSNBC, or Comedy Central on-line.Whatever your source, be sure to document it with a reference or an Internet link (with the date you accessed the link).


         You may work in teams of two, where both members of the group put their name on the memo and share the same grade.

         You will be graded primarily on your understanding and application of concepts from Pratkanis and Aronson, and the clarity of your writing.


         In three weeks (April 6), you will bring to class a 5 page memorandum, typed with standard 1" margins, written clearly, proofread (I stop reading after 2 proofreading errors), stapled, with a title page. Late papers will be docked Ĺ a letter grade for every day they are late.


II. Organization

         Begin with a statement about the importance of political propaganda in the 21st Century, explaining why mindless propaganda is so prevalent, and why propaganda needs to be identified, exposed and undermined.


         Use the propaganda principles or strategies in the assigned chapters (skip chs. 12-16, 22, 26-27, 29-32, 34-35, 39-40).Better papers will use 5 strategies from different parts of the book and will use those that are most relevant to your propagandist.


         In the last fourth of your memorandum, use the strategies for counteracting propaganda(Ch. 38) to design your own brief strategy for counteracting your selected propagandist, to be broadcast as a Public Serve Announcement on YouTube.††


         Summarize by weighing the difficulties you face in countering propaganda in the 21st Century.