Why not just lie? Tips on “trust” from (gulp) US political campaigns; aka successful ways to communicate persuasively

Harriett Levin Balkind

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Using traditional and social media, politicians (and it would now seem countries) have become quite adept at bringing audiences around to specific ways of thinking based on falsehoods rather than facts. This paper focuses on the techniques politicians use for persuasion, codified after reviewing 200+ television political ads and online media from US Presidential elections dating from their beginning in 1952 up to 2012 while curating the exhibit “I Approve This Message” with the Toledo Museum of Art. The paper states “persuasion” is not necessarily malicious – to persuade is “to induce someone to do something through reasoning or argument” – and demonstrates that the same methodologies politicians use to distort truth can be used in the service of truth as a way to gain support for any initiative. It demonstrates that rather than use a purely rational approach to achieve your goal, which an abundance of research shows does not work, you will be more successful doing what politicians do – not to lie – but to build in emotional elements as a way to influence your audience.


Advertising; Political Advertising; US Presidential Elections; Exhibit I Approve this Message; Toledo Museum of Art; Persuasion; Trust; Ecology of Care; HonestAds; HonestAds.org

To cite this article

Balkind, Harriett Levin. “Why Not Just Lie? Tips on “Trust” from (Gulp) US Political Campaigns; aka Successful Ways to Communicate Persuasively.” Fusion Journal, no. 12, 2017, pp. 39-50. http://www.fusion-journal.com/why-not-just-lie-tips-on-trust-from-gulp-us-political-campaigns-aka-successful-ways-to-communicate-persuasively/

First published online: 22 November 2017

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