Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dehumanisation used in Nazi propaganda

One explanation for the Nazi’s success as a political force in Germany during the early 1900’s, has been put down to their mastery of media as an effective channel of political propaganda. They used a vast array of tactics and different forms media to promote their extreme prejudiced views, and somehow managed to convince millions of people that their twisted beliefs was what was right for Germany.

This poster uses powerful imagery to promote a negative view of Jewish people, in this case likening Jews to Rats. This tactic promotes dehumanisation of Jewish people, promoting Jews as ‘sub-human’ and like vermin who are infecting the ‘cleanliness’ and ‘Purity’ of Germany. This, in turn, lead to an in-group and out-group mentality, and allowed the Nazi’s to convincingly persuade German citizens that Jewish people should be held accountable for the economic downfall of Germany after WW1, and deserved to suffer horrific consequences for it.

The negative impacts of dehumanisation on individual’s views of a group of people was clearly shown in  Esses, Veenvliet, Hodson & Mihic’s (2008) study which looked at the effect of dehumanisation of refugee’s in Canadian media. In Esses, Veenvliet, Hodson & Mihic’s (2008) study participants were randomly assigned to read one of two editorials about Canada’s refugee policy, both of which talked about the high cost of Canada’s current refugee policy. However, one of the editorials went on to dehumanise refugees by describing them as immoral individuals who are trying to cheat the system. Participants Emotions and attitudes toward refugees were then assessed. Results showed that those who had been exposed to the dehumanising views of immigrants in the editorial they read showed greater contempt and lack of admiration for refuges, which in turn lead to less favourable attitudes toward the group and less support for the current refugee policy.

Esses, V. M., Veenvliet, S., Hodson, G., & Mihic, L. (2008). Justice, morality, and the dehumanization of refugees. Social Justice Research, 21(1), 4-25.

* Just as a side point, when researching for this week I came across a current website still promoting anti-Semitism which uses an array of persuasive techniques, one of which suggests that those who are ‘awake’ to the devilish ways of the Jews hold the ‘critical thinking skills’ that the majority of society are not blessed with, therefore these incredibly intelligent individuals should pull together to stop the Jews once and for all. I actually couldn’t believe there are people out there who still think like this.

1 comment:

  1. Chilling. I would expect dehumanization (or lies or even making salient negative attributes of individuals, even if we share these attributes ourselves) would lead to more negative attitudes towards these individuals. But it is creepy how quickly these things can take hold--especially in situations where people may feel their our own well-being is jeopardized. Indeed, I would predict that such dehumanization is made easier by pointing out a participants weaknesses prior to dehumanizing a third party.


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