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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2022

PSYC 81.13 Persuasion and Propaganda

We all change our minds about various issues over the course of our lives. This course will examine how minds are changed. What are the most effective means of changing someone's mind? How do people attempt to persuade one another of the rightness or wrongness of a position? How do governments use propaganda and other forms of inculcation to convince people of the rightness of their positions? How do advertisers manipulate consumers into wanting to buy their products? How do religions and cults convince people to dedicate their lives and resources to their cause? What happened in cases of collective transformation of a society that to us, now, seem irrational, as happened, for example, in the rise of nazism? What are the roles of conformity, peer pressure, and force in enhancing mindsets and belief systems. What role do dissenters play in the propagation of ideas, and the limits placed on inculcation and mind control? This seminar is exploratory and discussion-based. We will view media and read articles or books outside of class and then discuss associated ideas in class. There will be one or two oral presentations in front of the class, and associated writing projects, in which the student deeply investigates some aspect of one of the questions above.

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