Common Types of Propaganda


There is a lot of difficulty in working out any formal definition of propaganda. Most students of the subject agree that propaganda has to do with any ideas and beliefs that are intentionally propagated. They agree also that it attempts to reach a goal by making use of words and word substitutes (pictures, drawings, graphs, exhibits, parades, songs, and similar devices). Moreover, although it is used in controversial situations, most experts agree that it is also used to promote noncontroversial, or generally acceptable, ideas. Types of propaganda range from the selfish, deceitful, and subversive to the honest and aboveboard promotional effort. It can be concealed or open, emotional or containing appeals to reason, or a combination of emotional and logical appeals.

According to Wikipedia, propaganda is a form of communication aimed toward influencing the attitude of a population toward some cause or position. Propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples.

Also, the Cambridge dictionary defined propaganda as information, ideas, opinions or images, often only giving one part of an argument, that are broadcast, published or in some other way spread with the intention of influencing people’s opinions. There are different types of propaganda in the study of International Communication they include:

  1. Grey propaganda
  2. Black propaganda
  3. White Propaganda
  4. Religious propaganda
  5. Political propaganda

GREY PROAGANDA: Is information of questionable origin that is never sourced and whose accuracy is doubtful. It is information that is really on the other end of the spectrum. This type of legitimate arguments that don’t have any sort of agenda behind them, but the origins of the information (Or even the names of the groups releasing it) are almost never properly sourced. A source might be noted occasionally, but it’s often ultimately untrue. The grey propaganda is situated between white and black propaganda, where there is no clear indication of origin is attributed to an ally, and where the truth of the information is uncertain.

An example of the grey propaganda was during World War I. Then the Britain’s War Propaganda Bureau (Wellington House) conducted a major campaign. (Indirectly against the Americans). They disguised a propaganda material and presented it in an objective manner to the Americans.

 BLACK PROPAGANDA: Can be defined a false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. IT is typically used to Jellify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy. The major characteristic of black propaganda is that the people are not aware that someone is influence them. It purports to emanate from a source other than the true source. Another name for this type of propaganda is covet propaganda.

An example of this was a rumuor that there had been a German attempt to land on British shores (Shingle Street) but it had been repulsed with large German Casualties. It was reported in American Press but was officially denied.  It was British Black propaganda to bolster morale in the UK, USA and occupy Europe.

 WHITE PROPAGANDA: This type of propaganda truthfully states its origin. It is the most common types of propaganda. It generally comes from an openly identified source. It typically uses standard public relations techniques and one-sided presentation of an argument. White propaganda is an awareness of the public of attempts being made to influence it. It comes from a source that is identified correctly, and the information in the message tends to be accurate. Although what listeners hear is reasonably close to the truth, it is presented in a manner that attempts to convince the audience that the sender is the “good guy” with the best ideas and political ideology. A typical example of this is a political campaign in Nigeria.

 RELIGIOUS PROPAGANDA: Religious propaganda was actually the first official type of propaganda. In this type of propaganda, missionaries try to recruit people to their respective faiths, whether it’s through face-to face communications, pamphlets, posters or broadcast media. An example of this is a Pentecostal Pastor trying to persuade the audience via television media to come to his church if they wanted miracles- implying that only his church is a miracle house.


Overt propaganda is well known and leaves no doubts with respect to the source of propaganda. It usually  uses accepted propaganda channels. Whereas  in the case of covert propaganda, its operation  are concealed in securely. Though they shear similar objectives, the former exits less concern as is within the normal run of intergroup or inter state relations. In addition to usually propaganda tactics, it uses generally recognized means of cultural, educational scientific and diplomatic channels to woo adherents, as its operation are  largely open, can be countered more effectively.

Overt propaganda has persuasiveness as a characteristics which uses subtle or suggestive methods portrays its initiator as a role model. In effect, overt propaganda operates on the basis of influence and the force of. Example which leaves  the audience with the decision making capability to make a choice.


Soviet overt propaganda held out the USSR as  a peace loving state, and socialism as the answer to third world’s under development, allegedly caused by capitalism.

Covert propaganda, is secretly subversive and tends to distort the decision making capability of the target. Being secretive, its source is usually hidden, thus making disinformation defined as “false, incomplete, or misleading information that is passed to a target persons, groups or country”.


Disinformation and fabrication tactics with the involvement of the secret services is highlighted by;

Gracher and N. Yermoshkin:  They referred to the Washington post’s article of march, 1982 on the United State Propaganda Campaign to Convince the domestic and international audience on why the U.S was fighting in Vietnam.


Persuasive and Coercive Propaganda is simple  another name for overt and covert propaganda. The persuasive and coercive propaganda one treated under a different. Sub-head due to the light. It sheds on the nature of overt and covert propaganda.

Cooperative or persuasive propaganda belongs to the overt categories seeks to promote understanding in a supposedly mutually beneficial relationship, while-conflictual or coercive –associated with the covert is symptomatic of strained relationship. Persuasive propaganda has a bridge  building orientation, hence acquired legitimacy in its employment of harmless methods are generally accepted as normal practice  inter-state practice whereas coercive propaganda, uses strategy that borders on subversion.



  1. Ad hominem: Attacking opponents rather than opponents’ ideas or principles
    2. Ad nauseam:        Repeating ideas relentlessly so that the audience becomes inured to             them.
  2. Appeal to authority: Use of authority figures (or perceived authority figures such as celebrities) to support ideas.
  3. Appeal to fear: Exploitation of audience anxieties or concerns
    5. Appeal to prejudice:  exploitation of an audience’s desire to believe that it is virtuous or             morally or otherwise superior
  4. Common man: Adoption of mannerisms and/or communication of principles that suggest affinity with the average person
  5. Cult of Personality: Creation of an idealized persona, or exploitation of an existing one, as a spokesperson for an idea or a cause
  6. Demonizing the enemy: Dehumanizing or otherwise denigrating opponents to sway opinion
    9.        Dictat: Mandating adherence to an idea or cause by presenting it as the only viable             alternative
    10.      Disinformation: Creating false accounts or records, or altering or removing existing             ones, to engender support for or opposition to an idea or cause
  7. Door in the face: Seeking compliance with a request by initially requesting a greater commitment and then characterizing the desired outcome as a compromise or a minor             inconvenience
    12.      Euphoria: Generating happiness or high morale by staging a celebration or other             motivating event or offer
  8. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt: Disseminating false or negative information to undermine adherence to an undesirable belief or opinion
  9. Foot in the door: Manipulation by encouraging a small gift or sacrifice, which establishes a bond that can be exploited to extract more significant compliance
    15.      Half-truth: making a statement that is partly true or only part of the truth, or is             otherwise deceptive
  10. Inevitable victory: Assurance of uncommitted audience members and reassurance of committed audience members that an idea or cause will prevail
  11. Latitudes of acceptance: Introducing an extreme point of view to encourage acceptance of a more moderate stance, or establishing a barely moderate stance and gradually             shifting to an extreme position
  12. The lie: False or distorted information that justifies an action or a belief and/or encourages acceptance of it
  13. Love bombing: Isolation of the target audience from general society within an insular group that devotes attention and affection to the target audience to encourage             adherence to an idea or cause
  14. Managing the news: Influencing news media by timing messages to one’s advantage, reinterpreting controversial or unpopular actions or statements (also called spinning), or             repeating insubstantial or inconsequential statements that ignore a problem (also called             staying on message)
  15. Milieu control: Using peer or social pressure to engender adherence to an idea or cause; related to brainwashing and mind control
  16. Obfuscation: communication that is vague and ambiguous, intended to confuse the audience as it seeks to interpret the message, or to use incomprehensibility to exclude a             wider audience
  17. Operant conditioning: indoctrination by presentation of attractive people expressing opinions or buying products
    33. Oversimplification: offering generalities in response to complex questions
    34. Pensée unique (French for “single thought”): repression of alternative viewpoints by simplistic arguments
    35. Quotes out of context: selective use of quotations to alter the speaker’s or writer’s intended meaning or statement of opinion
    36. Rationalization: use of generalities or euphemisms to justify actions or beliefs
    37. Red herring: use of irrelevant data or facts to fallaciously validate an argument
    38. Reductio ad Hitlerum: persuasion of an audience to change its opinion by identifying undesirable groups as adherents of the opinion, thus associating the audience with such groups
    39. Repetition: repeated use of a word, phrase, statement, or image to influence the audience
    40. Scapegoating: blaming a person or a group for a problem so that those responsible for it are assuaged of guilt and/or to distract the audience from the problem itself and the need to fix it
    41. Selective truth: restrictive use of data or facts to sway opinion that might not be swayed if all the data or facts were given
    42. Sloganeering: use of brief, memorable phrases to encapsulate arguments or opinions on an emotional rather than a logical level
    43. Stereotyping: incitement of prejudice by reducing a target group, such as a segment of society or people adhering to a certain religion, to a set of undesirable traits
    44. Straw man: misrepresentation or distortion of an undesirable argument or opinion, or misidentifying an undesirable persona or an undesirable single person as representative of that belief, or oversimplifying the belief
    47. Thought-terminating cliché: use of a truism to stifle dissent or validate faulty logic
    48. Transfer: association of an entity’s positive or negative qualities with another entity to suggest that the latter entity embodies those qualities
    49. Unstated assumption: implicit expression of an idea or cause by communication of related concepts without expressing the idea or cause
    50. Virtue words: expression of words with positive connotations to associate an idea or cause with the self-perceived values of the audience


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