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Attribution In Influence: Relative Power And The Use Of Attribution

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The types of attribution for influence activities span a spectrum that includes true attribution, nonattribution, concurring partner attribution, and false attribution. The U.S. Department of Defense sits in a unique position among U.S. agencies, as it must remain capable of conducting influence activities across that spectrum. This includes activities such as public affairs, military information support operations, and military deception. While U.S. military doctrine clearly defines and delineates the various types of attribution for influence activities and messages, notably absent is when and how attribution should be used. There is also little scholarly literature that specifically explores the issue of attribution. Despite this dearth of information, an analysis of historical cases can help identify the conditions best suited for the various types of attribution. This thesis explores those cases and identifies relative power as a potential variable to determine attribution. It tests the hypothesis that false and non-attribution methods are most effective when in a relatively weak position, and as operational success and relative power are achieved, influence activities with true attribution become more effective.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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