States’ Use of Psychological Warfare to Deter Threats

Abstract

The use of psychological tactics and methods has become an integral component of states’ strategies to counter threats on a domestic and international level. Psychological warfare can be understood as the “planned use of propaganda and other psychological operations to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behaviour of opposition groups” (RAND, 2018). Various methods such as the use of deception, misinformation, lies, honey traps, and propaganda are used to undermine the resolve of the enemy. In the current climate of terrorism and counterinsurgency, these methods are employed to not only defeat the enemy, but also to counter threats. The increase in the use of such tactics by states and non-state actors probes an analysis of their effectiveness. Thus, the question that this paper aims to answer is: How effective is the use of psychological methods in countering and deterring threats?

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