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Media Manipulation of the Masses: How the Media Psychologically Manipulates

Even though I have worked in academia for years and have enjoyed the benefits of helping learning minds to expand their horizons, I have had one gnawing concern. Learning institutions typically help students, at best, to make a living but they fail miserably at teaching how to live life. These areas pertain to the realm of accumulated wisdom. Of course, wisdom presupposes knowledge, that is, the correct and consistent application of knowledge as truth. As a behavioral professional and an academic, I wish institutions would teach practical things such as how media, government, religion, and even academia itself, can indoctrinate the masses. For the purpose of this article I will focus on the media (and a little on academia).

I can very much remember talking to journalism students and perusing their text books. I noticed the emphasis on “objective and balanced reporting.” I always laugh. Having been a student who used “qualitative methods of research” I knew very well how every bit of research made by any human being is always tainted at some level with some bias. I know some will have a cow at this but even quantum physicists tell us the same. In the media, even a well-intentioned journalist is affecting his message in some form.

I would like to focus on how the media can manipulate the masses through their message. You still see journalists reacting, “How dare you question me!” as if they belonged to some privileged priesthood directly connected to a Divine stream of ultimate truth.

I have endeavored to share just some of the tactics of psychological manipulation of mass thinking. Most reading this will easily recognize these. I don’t claim to provide an exhaustive list.

12 Comments to
Media Manipulation of the Masses: How the Media Psychologically Manipulates

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  1. You may have a point but you need to be morre specific as to which media organizations you refer to. Without direct evidence your argumeny falls apart.

    • Dr. R.,

      Media outlets on all sides do these tactics. You see it with Fox and you see it with CNBC and CNN. Both sides are guilty. I find it humorous when each side only considers the other side as culpable of such. Blindness… maybe? :)

      Best regards,

      Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.

      • You are absolutely correct. Watch any of these (CNN< FOX< MSNC) "news" outlets and, guaranteed, you will be able to identify all of the above tactics. The news is no longer the news; it's all propaganda, slanted toward engineering the masses to believe in whatever fashion deemed desirable by the powers that control the networks.

  2. The writer portrays his argument as original. It is not. Indeed communication researchers, political scientists, and media psychologists have advanced most of these ideas, and dispelled a few, over the past 60 years. And threats to the ideals of journalistic objectivity are included in most good journalism programs. Self-promotion is fine, but a little homework is good,too.

    • Mac,

      I don’t think I shared that my article was original information. Obviously, if I quote Joseph Goebbels then that means someone figured out this whole business of deception before we did… but, a big thanks for caring!

      Best regards,

      Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.

      • Dr. Sam– Great article! You broke the art of mass manipulation down into easy to understand components so that the methods employed are transparent. Unfortunately it seems that standard news reporter mannerisms are designed to evoke empathy, create shock, and present speculation as fact. The furrowed brow, the steely stare, the cookie cutter cadence of the voice as it uses worn euphemisms… it’s hard to believe reporters are being objective when their presentations seem so manufactured.

  3. Very good job of describing the tactics of manipulation. Now if only we did have a homogenous media, we could quickly put them out of business… The problem is that media are corporations whose sole reinforcer is profit. They publish what resonates with their customers, not the other way around. So maybe we have met the enemy and the enemy is us?

    Can you imagine a homogenous media that behaved like the people in the film “The Invention of Lying?”

  4. There are many examples unfortunately. The Bush Administration was able to suppress news and get media to promote its agenda especially after 9/11. If you are critical of your employer (Keith Olbermann) you are likely to be pushed out or forced to leave. Media owners like Fox and large corporations often have business interests which depend on their complicity with government policies. Many news items are not checked and news releases are reported as submitted by government agencies and others. The general public does not do research on who is providing certain information and background details such as conflict of interest by “experts” the cable news organizations or networks use is not provided. They also control what items are covered and which items are not. News often is nothing more than programming information or promotional bits for books by top administration officials (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) or advisors. Also remember that despite world-wide demonstrations against the war in Iraq the administration brushed the protests aside and went ahead anyway. Currently, Syria is waging war against its people despite condemnation from the UN and direct appeals from various countries and individuals to stop the killing. Think about the news and what it means. Often it is not what we are lead to believe.

  5. It’s just a shame that there is no honest and impartial news programs where we can get straight news without the blemishes and embellishments. Even if you watch it from all sides, it’s still hard to weed out the fake and decide what the real news is and what isn’t!

  6. The fact is that as humans, if we have strong feelings about something, our explanations etc may be skewed, or get skewed.

    Unfortunately that implies that this problem will never go away.

    This also implies that the source of the problem is not always malicious. But the result is no different.

    Inaccuracy, intended or not will cause problems for society. But gee, we survive it in the long run.

    But “Ouch!” it hurts while we are getting it wrong.

  7. Fact is not Truth. I can see, what I ‘think’ is you outside my window, when ‘truthfully’, you were nowhere near.

    mis-perceptions aligned with wanting and/or desired feelings, dictate behavior, due to momentum of agreement with such desired feeling. We make scenario’s fit our box of beliefs. They don’t have to be true; they just need to benefit our wants and desires.

    We are trained that way from birth. Even if not trained, it appears to be a ‘curse’ for ALL humanity. Seeing it, asks integrity from us. That requires the suffering of others in said society vehemently disagreeing.

    Truth is the only thing worth dying for in this life. Until it means that much to people, they will medicate themselves with media.



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