Persuasive Communication from a Military Force to Local Civilians: A Cognitive Treatment of PsyOps Messages Based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model

Persuasive Communication from a Military Force to Local Civilians: A Cognitive Treatment of PsyOps Messages Based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model

Jean-Yves Bergier (LSIS Laboratory, Aix Marseille University, Marseille, France) and Colette Faucher (LSIS Laboratory, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSCI.2016040102
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Abstract

Here is presented a model of message processing using one of the leading paradigms in social psychology of persuasion as main theoretical framework: the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). Adapting this dual process theory to military context and actions and more specifically psychological operations in asymmetric conflicts allows developing a model taking into account many message characteristics as well as specific factors such as local culture of the audience. It focuses on measuring capacity and motivation of the agents to determine the effect of message sending on attitudes through a detailed cognitive treatment.
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Consistently with the industrial context, quite a few systems modeling PsyOps actions exist.

SHOUT (Van Vliet, Huibregtse, & Van Hermert, 2011) for instance, is a simulator of message dissemination on a virtual theatre of war (XLand) emulating an African failed state comprising two religions and different political actors. Agents in the network are only communities and the tool aims primarily at producing propagation results, allowing to know which communities have been reached by a given message, therefore there is no individual cognitive processing of messages. Propagation is epidemiological and the theoretical basis for communication parameters is limited to the well-known Laswell media model (Laswell, 1948).

The CAPRICORN architecture (Khimeche, Frydman, Faucher et al., 2012), primarily developed for an Afghan scenario (Kapisa region) and allowing experimentation with PsyOps, CIMIC (civil-military cooperation) and Info-Ops, has seen some extensive developments (Bruzzone, Massei, Poggi, et al., 2015). While currently comprising a population model with some interest groups and complex agents possessing detailed emotional attributes and using fuzzy rules to estimate the effects of influence operations, the model simulates mainly military procedures and does not make use of social psychology theories of persuasion.

The Polias system (Brousmiche, Kant, Sabouret, et al., 2014) is also explicitly related to the context of asymmetric warfare and simulates PsyOps actions, but the model goes further by integrating attitude formation though witnessing of military actions, and communication and influence between agents within a group. Built on the concept of attitude developed in the field of social psychology, the model mainly concerns itself with attitude dynamics (construction and change) and influence as a social phenomenon based on belief exchange, more than with a persuasion process in the strictest sense. It incorporates a few chosen variables such as source credibility or unexpectedness in the cognitive treatment and uses only 100 cognitive agents for experimentation.

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