The Webster dictionary says “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage” (Merriam-Webster) So what does this mean in the context of communication. It would appear that to manipulate someone is sinister in nature. That it is something bad or evil we do to other people for our own gain. But is it? Throughout this paper I hope to disprove this fact that manipulation is only used for malicious intent. Or maybe I’ll only help further the notion that to manipulate someone is a bad thing to do.
Throughout this paper I will discuss several different forms of manipulation such as; Crowd Manipulation, Market Manipulation, Media Manipulation, and Psychological Manipulation. I will break down each of these to find their purpose and place in our society and to find if they is any “good” to be found in them. Crowd Manipulation.
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Crowd manipulation is a form of soft manipulation. According to Wikipedia the definition is “the intentional use of techniques based on the principles of crowd psychology to engage, control, or influences the desires of a crowd in order to direct its behavior toward a specific action. (Crowd Manipulation, 2012).
This has and is still being used as a powerful tool for people to rally individuals to a cause. This was used during the Revolutionary War to rally the public against the British troops. Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill also used crowd manipulation to gather more war assets for WWII. The location also has a lot of power when trying to sway a crowd to your position. Such as Ronald Regan giving a speech at the Berlin Wall or George W. Bush speaking at the World Trade Center shortly after September 11th, this can powerful imagery when speaking to crowds.
But crowd manipulation is not always for political means. Sports teams often use mascots to help involve the crowd in sporting events, it may be the Michigan State “Spartan” or the University of Georgia “Bulldog”. So these may not always be for evil or sinister means they are definitely in place to help move a crowd to “your side”. Media Manipulation. Media manipulation according to Wikipedia is “ an aspect of public relations in which partisans create an image or argument that favors their particular interests. ” (Media Manipulation – Wikipedia, 2012) The media uses many different forms of manipulation.
Such as labeling war activists as “pacifists” to discount there opinion, or such as the Republican party spreading the notion that President Obama is not a U. S. citizen, and leading the media spread it to the people to get the notion in their thoughts. There also other ways media “spins” information. Like focusing on the most extreme person of a group to make them appear more radical than actually may be. Politician will often use a crisis or world event to help “cover up” another media event that may be happening at the time. It would appear that all reasons I have seen that use the Media to manipulate seem sinister in nature.
They all are seem to dupe or trick the public into a certain point of view or hide the news from the public. Market Manipulation. While market manipulation may not appear to have a strong connection to communication I feel it does. Market manipulation primarily revolves around people misleading or falsely reporting financial data. While it is illegal in the United States it still manages to happen from time to time. What happens most often than not is buyers and traders will buy and sell stocks of the same or similar companies to drive up prices on stocks or to generate activity to help generate new investors to come in and drive prices up.
Another thing people to do is spread rumors about certain stocks to try to drive the price up or down. Psychological Manipulation. Is defined as; “a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, unfair tactics. By advancing only the interests of the manipulator, often at another’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive. ” (psycological manipulation: definetion of psycological manipulation, 2012) This from of manipulation is probably the most deceitful and one sided of any I’ve come across or read about.
The sole purpose is for the manipulator to gain something over some else. There are many different ways a person can achieve this such as; using positive and negative reinforcement (includes using praise, charm, or sympathy on the positive side, or possibly offering some sort of bribe on the negative side). A manipulator could also lie, or a number of diversion tactics to try to confuse or throw off the person they are trying to manipulate, to gain the upper hand. They may also use vulnerabilities in the target as well.
Such as if the target lacks assertiveness, or if the target happens to be lonely, or there young or elderly or impressionable or a number of other possibly character traits. What this all boils down to is that people will try to find a weakness in people and exploit it. There seems to be no good or redeeming feature in this. This is just people preying on the weakness of others. While I realize that sometimes things may be necessary. But it doesn’t ever seem like an acceptable thing to do. All of this courtesy of Wikipedia. Psycological Manipulation, 2012) Closing Statement.
After reading the information I did I was hoping to find more of an example of good things that could come out of manipulation. After reading example after example it would appear that manipulation is primarily for taking advantage of people to further your own gain. While I agree it may sometimes be necessary, not often I would assume but I can imagine there are rare occasions where you need something and the person(s) may not be willing to cooperate.
But I feel like more often than not people manipulate for their own gain. Although they may not necessarily realize what they are doing is a bad thing they still do it for their own gain. Although some occasions do arise where manipulation is not a bad thing, such as I mentioned earlier about mascots at sporting events, there only goal being to manipulate the crowd into being more active, or to excite the crowd, this I do not believe to be a bad thing ( I suppose you may think of this differently if you were on the opposing team ).
So as a last statement I would say manipulation is a terrible way to communicate with people. I feel being honest and direct will always be a better alternative than lying and being deceitful.