Bias and Propaganda

The Power of Persuasion

What is Propaganda?

    The word "propaganda" has some negative associations; people often associate it with dishonesty and lies. However, the working definition is:

    "Propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of public or mass-produced communication designed to affect the minds and emotions of a given group for a specific purpose, whether military, economic, or political."

Propaganda is so pervasive that people must learn to think critically to deal with it. Like mosquitoes in the woods, you can't make propaganda go away, but there are things you can do to make things more bearable.

Think about all the sources of propaganda you encounter each day. The radio, the television, billboards, bumper stickers, magazines, signs at the grocery store, textbooks, teachers, friends, parents, and on and on. If you watch thirty hours of TV per week, you will view roughly 37,822 commercials per year. That about 100 TV ads per day. You will see another 100 to 300 ads per day through the other mass media. Advertising manipulates people into buying all sorts of things that they don't need for all sorts of illegitimate reasons.And that's only advertising. By no means is all the propaganda you encounter advertising. In fact, advertising is perhaps the least insidious. Even though advertising is effective (that's why advertisers use them), the results aren't usually that serious. At some level, most of us don't really trust ads. What you've got to worry about are those whom you do trust, your community leaders for instance. With those whom you trust, there is a tendency to let down your guard. There are two very important things to realize about propaganda. First, it is partly true. Indeed, advertising does give the potential buyer some useful information. For instance, one may not have known that the product existed otherwise, or where to buy it, and so on. But we all know that there's a lot the advertiser doesn't tell us. Second, propaganda works because the audience wants it to work.

Lesson on Persuasion, Bias, and Propaganda

Click here to watch a lesson on persuasion, bias, and propaganda. Be sure you have a set of headphones to listen to the video.

Propaganda Types Videos

Some Practice and Examples of POWERFUL WORDS

CLICK HERE to view a digital handout containing powerful words that can be utilized when employing propaganda techniques. Try the "Guided Practice" section to identify the types of techniques used in each of the examples.

Activity #1: ThingLink

1. Choose a video from the list.
2. Get an image from the web that depicts your commercial, and save it to the photo library.
3. Open ThingLink and sign-in with your Google Account.

4. Create a new Thinglink by clicking the +button on the top right and choose photo library and find your image.

5. Add Targets by tapping on the page. You will add the following information.

  • Target audience
  • Persuasive Technique
  • Justification

6. When finished, click on the "Next" button on the top right, then "Save".
7. After the ThingLing saves click on the project. Tap the share square on the bottom of the page (box with arrow). Next, open in Safari.
8. Once the project opens, tap the share button on the right. A box will appear with the link to the project. Copy the link. Turn in the link into Google Classroom.

9. Logout of Thinglink.

Commercial Links:

10. Avocados from Mexico

9. Doritos- pigs fly

8. Mophie Case

7. Clash of Clans

6. Loctite Glue

5. KIA

4. Mercedes-Benz

3. Snickers

2. Doritos - airplane

1. Skittles



Your task is to create an infomercial that is two to four minutes in length.
The goal of this infomercial is to sell a product to your viewing audience.
(You will be using a video camera and editing your infomercial with iMovie!)
-You will be given a product to sell.

-You will create a name and slogan for your product.
-You will write a script for your infomercial.
-You will use AT LEAST three types of propaganda that you learned about on this web page.
-Use several of the POWERFUL WORDS from the digital handout in your infomercial.
-At the END of the video, you must tell us which three types of propaganda you used in the video and how they are a helpful in selling your product.
-Your video must include some type of music, on screenwriting, and be edited for seamless viewing.

-You will be graded on how well you convince your viewing audience that they

absolutely need this product!