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Emotional Influence Considerations in Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Operational Planning


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Every action is perceived by an audience that is subsequently influenced through the exposure to the action. This audience can be composed of declared and armed combatants, members of an extremist group, allies, or civilians. The possible end states for the influenced target audience are (a) behavior change, (b) belief change, (c) maintain current behavior, or (d) maintain current belief. It is a missed opportunity by the Marine Corps to not best posture itself to shape those outcomes, or at the very least, attempt to guide them. In the effort to shape the four possible end states, planners must identify the most effective way to affect the anticipated audience. Numerous research efforts have shown that the most effective way to influence an audience's behavior and/or belief is through affecting emotion. Subsequently, numerous studies have shown that the most effective way to affect emotion is through a well-communicated narrative or story. Every activity conducted by the Marine Corps, whether it is a declared combat operation or a routine training evolution, must be considered as "observable" in the information environment, thereby giving it an intended and unintended audience. This thesis draws heavily from literature on narratives and story architecture to provide an addendum to current Marine Corps planning procedures, ultimately leading to an enhanced planning process that effectively incorporates audience emotional considerations.



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