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Military Influence Operations: Review of Relevant Scientific Literature

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DRDC Toronto is embarking on research aimed at enhancing the CFs ability to plan, implement, and evaluate defensive and offensive influence campaigns in future expeditionary operations. This report explores the current CF influence capability, and explores the concept of influence in the scientific literature and in specific application to the CF domain. The main body of the report reviews the scientific literature related to influence. It distinguishes between two related bodies of literature, the persuasion and attitude change literature and the social influence literature. The persuasion literature argues that messages can be processed either systematically or heuristically, and that messages that are processed more carefully are, in general, more likely to be persuasive. Persuasion research has identified several factors that influence the persuasive power of a message. These include the source of a persuasive message, the message itself, the receiver or target of the message, and the medium through which the message is delivered. The second half of this review explores social influence processes, including the roles of normative e.g., the actions of other people are used as a guide and informational e.g., the actions of other people provide meaningful information factors. The literature relevant to majority influence or conformity, minority influence and obedience are reviewed. The goal of this review is to describe how the existing scientific research on influence could benefit the CFs influence efforts. Toward this end, the final chapter of this report provides recommendations for a proposed long term program of influence research in support of CF influence efforts. Promoting increased exploitation of the complex persuasion and influence literature is an important way to promote CF influence efforts.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Unconventional Warfare

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