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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2021/2022

Manipulation Techniques in Media

Type: Elective course (Journalism)
Area of studies: Journalism
Delivered by: Institute of Media
When: 4 year, 1 module
Mode of studies: offline
Open to: students of all HSE University campuses
Instructors: Tina Berezhnaya
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3
Contact hours: 38

Course Syllabus


The course looks into various aspects of public opinion manipulation and discovers the multiple techniques used by the media to that effect. The course will focus on psychology of individuals and groups, history of manipulative action, technological aspect of attention and opinion manipulation, philosophical and sociological theories of public opinion influence. The course looks at a number of cases with in-depth analysis of techniques used by the media and public response. The course is strongly recommended for: communication majors who seek profound understanding of influence mechanics and tools, ethics of public influence, and current scientific approaches to the issue; politics and social studies majors who want to expand their knowledge on the role of media in social process and public opinion. This course does NOT teach the methodology of manipulating public opinion, but looks into the social conditions, personal and societal psychology, and media framework that make manipulations possible.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Providing students with knowledge and analytical tools for deciphering manipulative actions and messages in media.
  • Developing critical approach to media consumption and production.
  • Providing knowledge of psychological aspects of manipulation and media consumption/interaction.
  • Developing ethical skills in media.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • To be able to categorize manipulative action.
  • To be able to counter manipulative action.
  • To be able to critically assess media quality and objectivity.
  • To be able to deconstruct the mechanics of any given manipulative action or campaign.
  • To be able to define single manipulative actions and massive manipulative/propaganda campaigns in media.
  • To be able to define the aims of manipulation and the parties interested in manipulative action.
  • To be able to identify the lexicology of manipulation.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • History of manipulation in the media. Terminology. Manipulation agents. Morality clause. “Instant” manipulation methods.
  • The Window of Opportunity (the Overton Window).
  • The Window of Opportunity - case analysis.
  • Priming as a short-term and a long-term method.
  • Priming analysis - case work.
  • Cognitive psychology basics, cognitive bias.
  • Misinformation, disinformation, and fakes. Fake news items in the media as a manipulative method.
  • Misinformation, disinformation, and fakes. Case studies.
  • Parasocial relationships (PSI/PSR). Influencers as manipulation actors.
  • Imposed opinion and methods of suggestion.
  • Influencer, imposed opinion, suggestion case analysis.
  • Manipulating the media: case studies.
  • Lexicology of manipulation.
  • Art and popular culture as manipulation framework.
  • Vocabulary analysis and art/popular culture assessment.
  • Information gatekeepers. Social media as gatekeepers. AI and robots in public opinion manipulation.
  • Manipulative design and dark patterns.
  • Case studies: manipulative design, censorship in gatekeeping, social media withholding or amplifying information.
  • The theory of cultural hegemony. Small deeds theory.
  • Cultural hegemony and small deeds cases and analysis.
  • Project presentations.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Attendance
  • non-blocking Class/homework
  • non-blocking Final project
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2021/2022 1st module
    0.5 * Final project + 0.1 * Attendance + 0.4 * Class/homework


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Benkler, Y., Faris, R., & Roberts, H. (2018). Network Propaganda : Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1894211

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Woolley, S., & Howard, P. N. (2019). Computational Propaganda : Political Parties, Politicians, and Political Manipulation on Social Media. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1904409