Using psychological warfare

Using covert psychological warfare
Engaging in psychological warfare
Using psychological aggression

Sending direct and indirect messages to the leadership, military forces or general population of an enemy or neutral party with the intent of creating attitudes which undermine the enemy's capacity and will to win.

Planned psychological activities in peace and war directed to enemy, friendly, and neutral audiences in order to influence attitudes and behavior affecting the achievement of political and military objectives. They include strategic psychological activities, consolidation psychological operations and battlefield psychological activities.

Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. Also called PSYOP.


Psychological warfare has been conducted alongside military warfare for all of human history. Sun Tsu, the Fourth Century BC Chinese General, suggests deception of the enemy as to one's own aims and the eroding of the enemy's will to resist as the highest form of warfare. The Old Testament includes many examples of psychological warfare, such as Gideon's subterfuge with gongs and lights used to create panic among the enemy. Ancient military noise-makers, head-dresses to make soldiers seem taller and painting the body to inspire dread are all such devices. The Cold War has been marked by a high level of psychological warfare conducted alongside a general armaments build-up.


Psychological warfare delivery systems are more difficult to control and analyse than material warfare systems. Printed matter requires some form of distribution. Radio and TV are important, but both are subject to jamming. Both classroom teaching and mass education have been used in more scientific ways since World War I. Statements repeated often may be believed. Prophecies can become self-fulfilling. Leaflets, posters, newspapers and magazines may all be used.


Clearly, military forces will fight less well when they become doubtful of their aims, distrustful of their leaders, and divided among themselves.

Counter Claim:

In the Vietnam conflict, the use of radio broadcasts and loudspeakers operated from low-flying aircraft proved ineffective.

Defence War
Psychology Psychology
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions