This technique is used during election campaigns, and it is regarded as an example of negative agitation. This type of poll, which first appeared in the USA, is based on the interactive marketing method – the pollster asks the respondent a short question. Polling firms use the term „Push“ because the question is formulated in such a way that a person will be pushed to a certain answer in favour of a political candidate or initiative.
Example: “Do you still continue to beat your wife?“
The so-called “troll” is quite a new phenomenon on the Internet, but it is very popular among politicians and marketers. Skilled users know how to ask provocative questions in social networks and on internet forums and present them as a form of civil protest, an expression of individual patriotism, or a purely private point of view. There are even international agencies and government departments that make a practice of hiring trolls.
Example: The parliament has approved the liberalizing of immigration law.
– Corrupt politicians! We must get them out of this country together with these stinking immigrants. One of them robbed my mother yesterday!
Paid or inspired scandalous materials in the press
This method is as old and effective as a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Paid or inspired articles can contain several opposing opinions and create fictional objectivity although they also contain some messages between the lines that will persist in the reader´s mind.
In 2006, in the USA, a scandal over a stripper who had been raped by students who were members of the Duke University lacrosse team led to mass protests, when black people accused whites of racism and inhumane attitudes. The students were white, and the stripper was black. Mass media and various political groups, which labeled the incident racism even before the beginning of the legal process, also added fuel to the fire. The prosecutor tried to please the public by hiding evidence of the lacrosse team members’ innocence (for instance, DNA tests results), and lied to the court. In the end, the supposed rape victim confessed that she had slandered and falsely accused the suspected men. The students were acquitted and released, but the incident had already had an influence on public opinion.
You can find a shampoo, which is used by a well-known actress in an advertisement, on the shelves of thousands of stores. A candidate who is a famous sportsman will bring the party more votes than a politician with enormous experience will. People believe that a person who is successful in one field will be successful everywhere.
But it is not always true.
In the same category fits the so-called anonymous authority phenomenon (a term that originated with the German philosopher Erich Fromm) – referring to information that has been provided by an unknown or impersonal source that is „by default“ regarded as authoritative („scientists“, „experts“ and other) and by implication allows no criticism.
USA vice-president Richard Chaney’s daughter – Mary Chaney, who doesn´t hide her non-traditional sexual orientation – has published a book that supports same-sex „marriage“. Thirty-seven-year-old Cheney made a significant contribution to her father´s election campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Her book is titled Now it´s my Turn.
People are too lazy to form their own point of view on every question, said Walter Lippmann – an American journalist. That´s why they use templates created long before their birth and don´t bother themselves with deeper analysis of the question under discussion. In most cases, stereotypes manifest themselves as labels, false generalizations that are actively used by propagandists to cause a desirable reaction in the audience.
Uncle Sam (USA), British lion (England), Russian bear (Russia)
Using public opinion poll results
It is astonishing, but you can quite successfully manage public opinion to spread a certain point of view. It´s like a snake that eats its own tail. The fact is that you should not always trust the wisdom of public opinion. Remember Nazi Germany, where the overwhelming majority of Germans approved of Fascism before the Second World War; and colonial Americans, who thought that black people were not so different from animals.
Example: During active debates about the war in Iraq, more than 40 percent of the American population couldn´t find Iraq on a world map. The majority of them didn´t even know the history of Saddam Hussein, the Iran-Iraq war, or the first Gulf war.