Understanding behavior: application of the reasoned-action approach in legitimacy-building influence operations
Rhee, Bryan H.
Warren, T. Camber
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The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the military often struggles to understand the people it attempts to influence. The military tried for years to build legitimacy for the host governments, with little success. It has become clear that the military fails to understand the determinants of human behavior. This thesis demonstrates a way to improve how the military conducts one of the most common types of influence operations—building legitimacy—by analyzing past influence operations through the reasoned-action approach model, a theory for the prediction of human social behavior. This framework is generally well regarded in social psychology; many studies have shown its ability to predict and understand human social behavior. The results of this thesis suggest that influence messages that self-aggrandize the host-nation government are ineffective and, in some cases, counterproductive to building legitimacy.
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