Effects of Propaganda over Voting Behavior

3561 words (14 pages) Essay

3rd Apr 2019 Politics Reference this


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Dissertation Outline


Chapter 1: Introduction

The main purpose of this study is understanding the effect of propaganda over voting behaviour of Turkish University students. Thanks to this study we can see possible changes in Turkish Politics in terms of voting behavior. The research question is that how does propaganda affect voting behavior of students who study at Turkish Universities. I will apply experimental research method, because in experimental research we can see any changes effectively than other methods.

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

I will look voting behavior and propaganda literature, thus I can measure changes of voting behavior and effects of propaganda over people’s decision.

Chapter 3: Theoretical framework

In this chapter I will talk about methodology of my study. I will explain every detail of my study in that part.

Chapter 4: Results/ Findings

In the 4th chapter I will share my results. I will give specific information about students reaction to propaganda and specific effects of these propaganda to voting behavior.

Chapter 5: Discussion& Conclusion


Appendix: There will be too much appendix in my study such as questions of tests, manifests of political parties and text of propaganda.

Literature of Propaganda and Voting Behavior

In this chapter, for understanding effectiveness of propaganda over voting behavior, we will look researches and studies which are related with voting behavior and propaganda.

Evaluation of Propaganda

French author Jean-Marie Domenach defines propaganda as “Propaganda is an attempt to influence the opinion and the conduct of a society in such a way that the people adopt a predetermined opinion and conduct.”[1](Domenach,1969: 7). In another article, John H. Burma defines propaganda as” For the purposes of this paper we shall consider propaganda as a systematic, planned attempt by an interested person or group to control the attitudes of persons or groups by means of suggestion, and consequently to control their actions.”[2](Burma,1939: 15). In another definition Garth S. Jovett and Victoria O’Donnel says that “Propaganda is a form of communication that attempts to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandis.”[3] Terence H. Qualter emphasized the necessity of audience adaptation: “Propaganda, to be effective, must be seen, remembered, understood, and acted upon. . . adapted to particular needs of the situation and the audience to which it is aimed”[4] (Qualter, 1962)

Propaganda actually started to use with the evolvement of organized society. This organized societies required leader or leaders for effective ruling, so leadership has important category in hierarchy of society. This importance of leaderships leads to competition among persons who want to be leader to society. In these competitions propaganda used often such as in ancient Egypt, in North America and Ancient Rome. However, propaganda is used firstly in 1622 by Papa XV as an organized structure. Gregory to publish Catholic Church’s views peacefully. Because, during this time there are religious wars started again, Papa knows that you cannot stop this conflict by using weapon or violent. There also occurred Protestant Reform Act, so Papa wanted to find solution by use peaceful ways to finish the conflict and prevent to growth of Protestant Church. Therefore he created “Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide”. This organization became official part of Catholic Church; this organization was responsible from spread Catholic Church views by the way of propaganda.

In the 19th century, with the improvement of nation states and occurrence of World War I and World War II provide huge area of usage for propaganda. After the Word War I, many people learned that what is propaganda and how politicians apply the propaganda. With the Great War propaganda completely settled to language literature. In the First World War, Allied Powers and Central Powers used propaganda for providing legitimacy and preparing people to war. According to Terence H. Qualter,” During World War I, propaganda used not only as a noun but also used as adjective and it refers to deception and lie for achieving a goal or act. This usage leads to psychological wars today.”[5] (Qualter H. 1962) During World War I, the United States produces a documentary series which name is “Why We Fight”. The basic aim of this documentary is preparing and providing high level psychological power among citizens and soldiers. Hovland who is documentary maker, tried to show of legitimacy of war.

Domenach describes 4 rules for propaganda such as the rule of simplification and enemy, the rule of exaggeration and distortion, the rule of overall planning, the rule of transmission, the rule of unanimity and contagion. These rules are most important for successful propaganda, because successful propaganda needs good communication techniques. C. Baltacı and E. Eke support that political parties use propaganda by the way of 5 basic tools such as political campaign, gallup poll, canvass with face to face meeting, mass media and part meetings. C. Baltacı and E. Eke also advocate that political propagandas which is used by political parties, have important effect over citizens decision. Especially hesitant citizens are more affected than other citizens. Therefore, propaganda reduces uncertainty of voters about political decision. Tobias Ursprung emphasize that propagandas provide free information to voters, but this free information is complex, not includes cause and effect relationship, so citizens do not check this information because it requires too much effort and time. Therefore, validity of information is important for effect citizens’ decision ( Tobias Ursprung, 1992). Especially in election time, politicians frequently apply to propaganda, so politicians stack too much information to citizens. Citizens try to pass in brain filter to understand this information, but if the information is too complicated, citizens do not show extra effort for understand that information; because, there are too much information and citizens do not have enough time to justify all information. Therefore, propagandists do not give truth information to citizens every time. Joseph Goebbels who is minister of Reichs Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda during Nazi Government in 1933, says that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep it repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

There are two basic discussion over propaganda. The first one is education and propaganda relationship. There is too much commentary over this discussion. Terence H. Qualter criticized these commentaries and he created a new interpretation. Terence H. Qualter mentioned that if it is known that material is not truth but teaching the material is still continues with the aim of manipulation, this act called as propaganda. On the other hand if there is thought that this material is absolutely truth, this can be not only education but also be propaganda. Apart from reality, if aim of the act is to manipulate people’s decision and behavior for a specific goal, this situation also called as propaganda. In the standard of education, the important thing is reality and trueness of material. On the other hand in the standard of propaganda, the important thing is aim in the teaching. Another discussion topic in propaganda is deception. Terence H. Qualter advocates that propaganda and deception is not same thing. Propagandist of course use falsity terms, especially in pressure times they use falsity words than truth. However, the basic principle of propaganda is not say truth or lie. The basic principle of propaganda is being persuasive. Propagandist use not only falsity but also use truth for manipulate the target group. Therefore, it is biggest thought that propaganda and deception are similar. Basically, there are three conditions of lie like that material must be away from reality, it is know that this situation away from reality, and the main aim must be manipulation. However when these 3 conditions came together, understand to lie is very difficult in practice. Many times people cannot discriminate innocent lie and conscious lie. This uncertain situation occurred important result in World War II. During World War II English Air Force declared that 2.698 German Warcrafts are defeated by English Air Force. However, number of defeated warcraft in German Air Force was 1.733. In that situation English Air Force’s declaration is truth actually, but they did not calculate that some planes could reach to German Air Force Base and could repair in there. In that topic another point is that people must have information as soon as propagandist to understand propaganda (Qualter 1962) Every person cannot have information about everything, so it is difficult to understand that when there is an act, it is a kind of propaganda or not.

Voting Behavior

In the politics, analyzing voting behavior provides successful results in election for politicians. Therefore, politicians give importance to analyze voting behavior. As a result of these analyses, political parties determine their policies.

In the literature, basic study of voting behavior is “The American Voter”. This study is prepared by Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller and Donald E. Stokes at Survey Research Center , University of Michigan in 1960.Their main argument is funnel model. According to this model, citizens firstly learn their part ID from their parents and socialization. Citizens become dependents this party psychologically. Citizens’ partisanship shapes the development of citizens’ attitudes, because citizens like their party, they adopt its position. Socialization leads to partisanship and affect people’s voting behavior. Before this study, there was another study which is prepared by Columbia University and this study support that mass media do not directly influence voting behavior, mass media cannot shape people’s decision, it is only supply existence idea. After that study of Michigan University occurred and they supported political party ID.

There are some supporters of the theory that the media have limited access to the decision-making process of voters claim four key reasons in “minimal effects model”. The first is that citizens are not sufficiently interested to take note of the media. The second reason is that conflicting messages cancel one another out. The third reason is that Citizens are selective, and they choose to receive only such information as reinforces their existing preferences. The last reason is that the messages which are absorbed are catalysed through individuals’ own interactions and communication.[6]

Ahmet Taner Kışlalı supports that “there are four determined elements of voting behavior such as; security, dignity request, emotional dependence and religious-political beliefs” (Kışlalı, 1987). In that definition security is related with economy. Ahmet Taner Kışlalı also mentioned that people who have low but stable economic revenue wants stability in economics and also politics. They do not prefer any risky situations, they prefer protect possessed economic value. On the other hand, some group of people who do not see respect in the society, feel lack of confidence against present government, so they prefer alteration and they give alternative parties. Emotional dependence refers to people can feel dependent himself to a leader or a political party, so they vote to this leaders or party even if policies of the political party or leaders are insufficient. Similarly, religion and political view also affect people’s voting decision. People feel dependence to religious and political view (Kışlalı, 1987).

According to Lipset and Lazarsfeld, if policy of government is related with interest of a social group, member of this social group became active in election, so participation to the election will increase. There is a pressure in society about political participation, in that society electoral participation also increases. However this situation can change according to relationship between individuals and group. Lipset and Lazasfeld also mentioned that there are some indicators which change side of vote. For example, with the transition from agricultural society to industrial society, aspects of class society become more effective rather than regional effects in voting decision. With the increase of social inequality, people’s participation to politics also increases. With the industrialization, welfare in society increased and people started to compare their welfare with other countries, in that situation if their states stay behind of other countries in terms of welfare, there started infelicity. Apart from welfare, daily political events also affect citizen’s decision, especially irresolute citizens. For example, with the increase of violence acts in the country, hesitant citizens can vote to alternative parties. (Lıpset and Lazarsfeld 1954:364)

According to Rui Antunes , there three basic models of voting behavior such as social, psychosocial and rational choice. In the first model of voting behavior, Harrop and Miller advocate that social groups are more important than individuals in voting behavior. They refuse individualism which is supported by economic and psychological approach. Socialist approach says that people’s approaches and value system are important in voting behavior, so socio-economic status; geography and social groups become important elements in voting behavior. The basic subject of sociologist approach is not voter; their basic focus area is political parties and social groups (Harrop and Miller 1987: 157). The basic principle of groups is foundation of norms and punish to members who do not follow norms of the group. This situation leads to increase of political participation. In the psychological model of voting behavior, important thing is voter’s dependency to the political party like a supporter of a football team. The basic assumption of psychologist approach is that choices of voters based on power of psychological elements, under that psychological power, citizens transform to partisanship. “Partisanship is acquired through a socialization process, influenced by the values and attitudes of family, colleagues and peers” (Antunes, 2010). Partisanship is a genuine form of social identification in which “Citizens have an enduring sense of what sorts of people belong to various parties and whether they identify with these social groups” (Green, Palmquist, & Schickler, 2002). The last approach over voting behavior is rational choose approach. This approach is firstly used by Antony Downs in his famous book “An economic theory of democracy”. In that approach self-interests are main focuses. When citizens vote, they consider their self-interest. This approach refuses emotional elements and dependency to a political party or leader, social environment. In that approach, citizens evaluate past events and decisions rationally and they take decision according to result of this evaluation. Voters do not focus promises, they focus realistic results. Therefore, politicians cannot affect those citizens by the way of propaganda. Citizens think only maximization of profit and they give their decision in the light of this idea. (Antunes, 2010) Apart from these basic models there are also resonance model, this model support that persuasion to voters is acceptable, but political campaign work together with voters’ education and idea. New political campaigns merge with other older information, after that situation, voters can impressed or not from propaganda. The most important power among voters’ past information is political party ID. (Iyengar and Simon 2000:158)

In voting behavior literature John E. Jackson has important study. His study based on reciprocal influences between part affiliations and part evaluations. He mentioned that” part identifications are highly influenced by people’s evaluations of what policies each party advocates relative to their own preferences and party affiliations have little direct influence on the voting decision except for people who see little or no difference” (Jackson, 1975).

With the improvement of technology, internet also becomes important part of people’s life. Internet has led to a significant reduction in the cost of information. The possibility of distributing information at a low cost further increased the number of available sources of information. Thanks to internet, voters can reach the information easily and they can decrease effect of manipulation to minimum.

W. Lance Bennet support importance of political image, he says that there are three elements in creating political image. The first element is preparing simple theme or message for voters. The other element is designing the messages more effective and attractive than other candidates. The last element is using all ways to reach voters (Bennet, 2000). Bruce Newman mentioned that for creating an image in voter’s brain, politicians emphasis that candidates personal qualities. There are a lot of factors which create political image. Generally political image of candidate includes honesty, reliability, specialty, and achievement and intelligence terms. All these terms are combined with body language, thus candidates try to change voters’ decision (Newman,1999).

Schmitt-Beck and Farrell studied over political campaign and voting behavior and they support that political campaigns may be effective, but level of effectiveness can be changeable, so effect of campaign can change according to condition and situation.


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Jovett, G. S.& O’Donnel V., Propaganda & Persuasion, 2011, 5th ed.,SAGE Publications

Özkan, Abdullah,” Türkiye’de Seçmenlerin Oy Verme Davranışının Siyasal Ä°letiÅŸim Perspektifinden Ä°ncelenmesi”

[1] Domenach, La propagande politique, 6th ed.,1969, p.7.

[2] Burma, John H.,The General Theory of Propaganda, November 1939, p.15.

[3] Jovett, G. S.& O’Donnel V., Propaganda & Persuasion, 2011, 5th ed.,SAGE Publications, p.1

[4] Jovett, G. S.& O’Donnel V., Propaganda & Persuasion, 2011, 5th ed.,SAGE Publications, p.6

[5] Qualter H. T., Propaganda Teorisi ve Propagandanın Gelişimi, p.259, (Orginal work published 2011),Waterloo University

[6] Alotaibi, Nasser N., Media Effects on Voting Behavior, European Scientific Journal, 2013 edition vol.9, No.20,p.7

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