Propaganda and credulity
Andrew T. Little
Games and Economic Behavior, 2017, vol. 102, issue C, 224-232
I develop a theory of propaganda which affects mass behavior without necessarily affecting mass beliefs. A group of citizens observe a signal of their government's performance, which is upwardly inflated by propaganda. Citizens want to support the government if it performs well and if others are supportive (i.e., to coordinate). Some citizens are unaware of the propaganda (“credulous”). Because of the coordination motive, the non-credulous still respond to propaganda, and when the coordination motive dominates they perfectly mimic the actions of the credulous. So, all can act as if they believe the government's lies even though most do not. The government benefits from this responsiveness to manipulation since it leads to a more compliant citizenry, but uses more propaganda precisely when citizens are less responsive.
Keywords: Political economy; Propaganda; Authoritarian politics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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