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7 Political Manipulation Techniques – Exposed

It is no surprise that politicians, corporations, propaganda, and advertisements are willing to manipulate people. You might have even observed some of the techniques used by politicians many times.

Intuitively, you understand how manipulation works. Then what is it that you don’t know about? It’s the mechanics of these techniques in detail!

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

Why is this important to know these techniques? You won’t become an easy target, and will be able to bring manipulators down.

Find below some of the most powerful manipulative techniques used by politicians and various dishonest people.


Technique #1: Use Altruism for Your Own Benefit

First of all, what is altruism? This is actually a biological technology, which is used, surely not exclusively, by human beings. Bees, ants, and many others are willing to sacrifice their life for the sake of their group.

The common trait of every altruism behavior is that the species are willing to put their life in line when it’s needed to protect their relatives. Just as it is shown in the example of bees, they live in the groups that consist solely of their relatives. So every individual feels that it is his responsibility to protect all his genes.

We can see how altruistic behavior developed for human beings if we look at our history.

7 Political Manipulation TechniquesThe Paleolithic period, according to Wikipedia, comprises 99% of the history of humanity. Some researchers state that during this period every third human died in conflict with neighborhood tribes.

It was a really bloody time, as the wars with neighboring tribes were going all the time. That was the reason why it was so important for the members of the tribe to be willing to protect the tribe for its survival. That is how the biological mechanism of altruism was created.

To sum it up, altruism is the biological mean to protect your relatives. That is the reason why it is inbuilt in our genes.

But on the backside, the tricky people may use this powerful instrument to manipulate other people, and get their own benefit out of it. In the next items we’ll see exactly how it goes.


Technique #2: Create Outside Enemy

Technique #3: Use Fear and Distrust of That Which Is Perceived To Be Foreign or Strange.

In other words, this is a definition of xenophobia. The modern society considers it to be inappropriate attitude. However, it is not that simple.

Xenophobia has some biological history behind it. Scientists suspect that xenophobia in the past helped people to protect themselves from the viruses that came from foreigners – the viruses that those people didn't have their immune system to be ready for.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

Let’s recollect the story how Europeans brought sickness to the New World around 500 years ago.

In 1493 Columbus built his first town on the nearby island of Hispaniola. Here, the Taino numbered at least 60,000. But by 1548, the Taino population had decreased to less than 500. Lacking immunity to Old World pathogens carried by the Spanish, Hispaniola’s indigenous inhabitants became victim to terrible plagues of smallpox. {Source: Sciencemag}

That explains why people have these biological distrusts and fear of something, which is perceived to be foreign and strange.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

An early example of xenophobic sentiment is the ancient Greek denigration of foreigners as ‘barbarians’. They held the belief that the Greek people and culture were superior to all others. {According to Wikipedia}

The really funny thing is that every culture has exactly the same beliefs/legends that they are superior in comparison to other cultures.

The modern world has no objective reasoning of xenophobia, but still it has historical roots in our instincts. Those who wish to manipulate, can take advantage of that.

Manipulator can provoke that fear of something perceived to be foreign or strange.

It will consolidate his/her supporters. It will activate their altruistic behavior. And it will make inner conflicts forgotten, as the focus will shift outside.


Technique #4: Say “We Need to Protect X”

Remember that altruism was made to protect your relatives. Therefore, for the manipulator to activate this mechanism it is very important to use and highlight the word protect.

He/she would say: “We need to protect X (something).” It’s easy to find many things that could possibly be in need of protection. It could be a certain minority, nation, religion, some value etc.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

Whenever the manipulator says that magical phrase ‘we need to protect X’ that drives something within the people. That makes them willing to serve the interests of this manipulator.


Technique #5: Pretend To Be Relatives

Manipulators make use of words like ‘bro’ and ‘motherland’. As you know, altruism is meant to protect your relatives. Therefore, manipulators pretend to be like your relatives that actually they are not.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

That is why they start using words that appear to be like your relatives. For example, an individual may tell you something like: “Hey, bro…”. The beginning of the conversation like that has very high chances that this person wants to manipulate you.

When it comes to politicians and larger masses of people they can appeal to motherland. When they use this magical world ‘mother’, they activate your inner instinct of altruism.


Technique #6: Disgrace Your Opponent

Disgrace is a verb full of emotion. It also has biological roots. For thousands of years, human beings lived in unsanitary conditions. Under those conditions, disgrace helped people to stay away from things that could be infectious.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

There was an interesting research where scientists scanned the brain of people. It established that when the emotion of disgrace appeared, the emotion of compassion decreased.

What does it mean? For instance, most human beings would easily kill the cockroach without feeling any compassion.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

Historically, it was necessary to stay away from infections.

Nowadays, the manipulators can still use the same emotion for their own benefit. When they come to disgrace all their opponents, they achieve a couple of useful goals for them.

  • People stop feeling compassion for the opponent. They stop considering his/her arguments, and stop really caring about him.
  • People strengthen ties within their existing group. This way a manipulator can consolidate his partisans.
  • People are more willing for altruism – it is what a manipulator dreams about.

Manipulator could easily use fake information to achieve his/her goal. The researchers found out that once formed, the impressions are remarkably perseverant. Even after the evidence for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs. {According to NewYorker}

In other words, irrespective of the fact that the information was not trustworthy, still it severely damages the reputation and perception of that opponent.


Technique #7: Scare

Since 1972, the General Social Survey has asked respondents: “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?”

As of 2014, the most recent data, the number of people saying most others can be trusted was at a historic low. {Source: TheAtlantic}

Percentage of Americans Who Say Most People Can Be Trusted

In other words people are becoming more skeptical and they are aware of attempts to manipulate them. They don't want to trust blindly.

So how can a manipulator break through this defensive barrier? It's very simple. What is stronger than logic? It is instincts and emotions! That is how the manipulator appeals to instincts – scaring people – the best way.

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

The manipulator starts by distributing scaring stories that happened or can possibly happen!

The question you might have here is: Would people really spread some potentially scary news, if this is not totally confirmed and trustworthy? Here it's interesting to provide the results of one research in the quote below:

“You spread stories because you know that they’re likely to be a kind of litmus test. The way people react will show whether they’re prepared to side with you or not.

Having social support, from an evolutionary standpoint, is far more important than knowing the truth about some facts that do not directly impinge on your life”. {Source: TheAtlantic}

7 Political Manipulation Techniques

In other words, people are willing to spread the news even if they're not 100% sure about its trustworthiness. Spreading such news helps them to strengthen their ties. It is human nature!

The manipulator can use this human weakness and spread scare. He/she can make use of emotions and instincts, use some sort of breakthrough logic, and then start his manipulative work.



Here are the 7 most powerful manipulative techniques.

  1. Use altruism for your benefit.
  2. Create outside enemy.
  3. Use fear and distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign and strange.
  4. Say ‘we need to protect X’.
  5. Pretend to be relatives. Use words like ‘Bro’, ‘Motherland’.
  6. Disgrace your opponents.
  7. Scare.

If you observe modern politicians, you would find them using these manipulative techniques a number of times.

If you know such examples, share them in comments below.

Reference: a number of facts and researches provided in this article are taken from the video “How to Rule the World Using Altruism, Patriotism and Other Animal Instincts”.

Igor Smirnov

Igor Smirnov

Psychologist, blogger, chess Grandmaster, Internet entrepreneur. Follow Igor on Facebook

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