5 Manipulation Techniques That Affect Us And That We Use

Handling techniques

Manipulation is an act that involves abuse of power because it involves using discursive elements to control the cognition, affects and behavior of one or more people. It is often confused or mixed with other similar processes: argumentation and persuasion, but they are not the same.

In this article we explain what manipulation is and how it differs from persuasion and argumentation. Likewise we present some examples of manipulation techniques that are frequently used.

Arguing, persuading and manipulating are not the same

Both argumentation, persuasion and manipulation can take the form of oral or written discourse and in very general terms serve to defend an idea or an attitude, that’s why it’s very easy to confuse them. What makes them different is the purpose that each one pursues, as well as its particular elements.

Argumentation is an activity that consists of giving logic and coherence to an idea in order to defend it. In other words, it is when we establish a reasoning with a specific purpose: to justify or refute that same or another reasoning.

On the other hand, persuasion occurs when the argument has another purpose: it is not only used to defend or refute an idea, but It is aimed at modifying the behavior of the interlocutor

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Furthermore, manipulation is when the argument is used to modify or direct the behavior of the interlocutor, but based on two main elements and purposes: power, or rather the abuse of power, which translates into domination.

It can be very subtle (it generally goes unnoticed) and can constitute the foundations of symbolic violence, since it results in favoring the interests of one party and harming those of the other.

That is why manipulation can be analyzed from three dimensions (Van Dijk, 2006): a social one, which is exercised by elites who have access to public discourse so their influence is large-scale; a cognitive dimension that consists of controlling mental models and social representations; and a discursive dimension, which consists of using linguistic elements to be able to impact both mental schemas and behaviors of a person or of an entire group.

Some handling techniques

Studies on how some groups or individuals manipulate others have become very frequent in recent decades, especially in the area of ​​media advertising and political activity.

Thanks to this we have been able to identify some manipulation strategies that we can fall into very easily without realizing it, both in our interpersonal relationships and in what we see daily on television or the Internet.

Although we could exemplify many more, below we will review 5 of the most common manipulation techniques.

1. Play with feelings and emotions

Controlling the affective dimension is one of the most powerful tools because makes recipients reaffirm their opinions and positions without necessarily having gone through logical, reflective or critical reasoning.

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An example could be the activity of the tabloid press, which exaggerates the news, giving the information a touch of sensationalism rather than rigor, because the objective is precisely to appeal to the emotional dimension of the readers and their previous experiences, and With this, increase visits or sales.

2. Simplify the message and include strong statements

Consists in control the cognitive elements that allow us to process and understand a message It is when quick and categorical conjectures are used that do not allow for in-depth analysis, which is basically intentionally hindering the understanding of the argument.

For example, when a small part of a text is printed in large letters, underlined and at the beginning, which in addition to immediately attracting our attention and activating short-term memory, causes us to have a partial or biased understanding of the information.

3. Resort to what an authority says or thinks

It is when a position is justified by presenting a person or figure who is socially recognized as a competent authority. This is helpful because we often tend to give more consideration to the opinions, directions, or activities of someone we admire or someone who is in a position of power.

This can involve anything from the opinion of a priest or a president, to that of an artist or a family member, and Its effectiveness depends on the context in which the group or person operates.

4. Individualize conflicts and make people think that they are always the same

It is when a situation, especially if it is a conflictive situation, is reduced to what a single person or a single group of people does, says or thinks, hiding all the other variables, agents or groups that also influence or are affected by that situation. , contributing to the generalization of knowledge, affection, attitude or ideology

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An example is found in the cases that occur when an attack is represented in the mass media as an isolated event, or as the act of a “madman” (which invites us to fear all those who are exposed to it). it seems), instead of being represented as the result of complex political and social conflicts.

5. Use and reinforce stereotypes

Broadly speaking, stereotypes are the behavioral qualities that are attributed in a simplified and almost automatic way to a person or a group of people.

They are useful as a persuasion technique because allow you to control values ​​and judgments without having to deeply justify the arguments and without allowing the receiver to question himself widely, that is, interest in deep and reflective information is not favored.