Analysis of the personality of Adolph Hitler

Adolf Hitler was a German politician, demagogue, and Pan-German revolutionary, who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and Führer of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945.

Author: Henry A. Murray, M. D.
Print Source:Nuremberg, Germany: International Military Tribunal, 1943-10-00
Publication Info: Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Law Library


Killing babies in incubators – The fake Nayirah testimony (PR PsyOp)

The Nayirah testimony (aka the incubator lie) is a paradigmatic case as it demonstrates how the psychology of emotions is abused in the mass-media. Psychology in action!

The whole things was a staged PsyOp by the PR firm “Hill and Knowlton”.

Darda, J.. (2017). Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome Narrative: Human Rights, the Nayirah Testimony, and the Gulf War. American Quarterly, 69(1), 71–92.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1353/aq.2017.0004
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Marlin, R.. (1993). Public Relations Ethics: Ivy Lee, Hill and Knowlton, and the Gulf War. International Journal of Moral and Social Studies
Fowler, G., & Fedler, F.. (1994). A Farewell to Truth: Lies, Rumors and Propaganda as the Press Goes to War.. Florida Communication Journal

The ‘Weapons Priming Effect’ and aggressive behaviour

The weapons priming effect: A robust psychological finding which demonstrates that the mere presence of weapons causes significant increases in aggressive thoughts and violent behaviour, thereby implying that children should not be exposed to weapons (in reality and virtual reality, i.e., in vivo and silico). REST-style URL:
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The weapons priming effect is a psychological phenomenon described in the scientific domain of social and cognitive/affective psychology. It refers to the finding that the mere presence of a weapon (e.g., a picture of a weapon) leads to more aggressive and less prosocial thoughts and behaviors in humans beings. The effect was first described by Leonard Berkowitz & LePage (1967) in their publication “Weapons as Aggressions-Eliciting Stimuli” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The researchers experimentally corroborated their hypothesis that stimuli commonly associated with aggression (i.e., weapons) elicit aggressive responses from people (i.e., people are primed to act aggressively). The weapons priming effect is a repeatedly replicated empirical finding in psychology. A meta-analysis conducted in 2018 supported the robustness of the effect. These finding are specifically relevant in the context of military PR campaigns which encourage children to “play” with guns. Next to important humanistic concerns, neurobiological considerations concerning brain development, developmental neuroplasticity, and Hebbian long-term potentiation (LTP) are pertinent in this context. If we want to create a peaceful future on this planet we need to ‘stop to teach our children how to kill’.
An overview of the psychology of human aggression and violence

Topically related lectures

Prof. Brad J. Bushman: Lecture on the weapons priming effect
Prof. Brad J. Bushman: TED talk on aggression and violence
Noam Chomsky: The Military Is Misunderstood
Noam Chomsky on Technology, Military and Education
Noam Chomsky on Technology and Military Research


Pertinent scientific references

Anderson, C. A., Benjamin, A. J., & Bartholow, B. D.. (1998). Does the Gun Pull the Trigger? Automatic Priming Effects of Weapon Pictures and Weapon Names. Psychological Science, 9(4), 308–314.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00061
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Benjamin, A. J., Kepes, S., & Bushman, B. J.. (2018). Effects of Weapons on Aggressive Thoughts, Angry Feelings, Hostile Appraisals, and Aggressive Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Weapons Effect Literature. Personality and Social Psychology Review : An Official Journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/1088868317725419
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Benjamin, A. J., Kepes, S., & Bushman, B. J.. (2018). Effects of Weapons on Aggressive Thoughts, Angry Feelings, Hostile Appraisals, and Aggressive Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Weapons Effect Literature.. Personality and Social Psychology Review : An Official Journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc, 22(4), 347–377.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/1088868317725419
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Benjamin, A. J., & Bushman, B. J.. (2016). The weapons priming effect. Current Opinion in Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.05.003
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Dillon, K. P., & Bushman, B. J.. (2017). Effects of Exposure to Gun Violence in Movies on Children’s Interest in Real Guns. JAMA Pediatrics, 171(11), 1057.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.2229
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Gallina, M. F., & Fass, W.. (2014). The Weapons Effect in College Females. Violence and Gender

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1089/vio.2014.0020
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Lust, S. A., Saults, J. S., Henry, E. A., Mitchell, S. N., & Bartholow, B. D.. (2009). Dangerous minds: A psychophysiological study of alcohol, perception of weapons and racial bias. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research


  • affective cognitive psychology
  • agression
  • cross-generational responsibility
  • desensitisation
  • developmental neuroscience
  • habituation
  • hebbian long-term potentiation
  • humanism
  • military pr
  • military-industrial-enertainment complex
  • priming
  • Propaganda
  • social conditioning
  • social neuroscience
  • social psychology
  • spreading activation
  • violence
  • world peace

Comments & suggestions

Seeing the bigger picture

A generalisable lesson from psychophysics.

“Violations of moral norms can be made ‘morally invisible’ even if all relevant facts are unobscured: This can be achieved by embedding these facts into a context that prevents eliciting widespread unease and indignation. One example is the structural violence associated with the implementation of neoliberal economical doctrine. While societal and humanitarian consequences of this violence have so far been mostly observed in so-called third-world countries, they also manifest themselves more and more often in western industrialized nations. Mass media play a pivotal role in making facts morally and cognitively visible: In addition to reporting simple facts, media typically also deliver the contextual frame necessary for interpreting the facts, thus shaping our political world view. The invisibility of some moral transgressions is thus part of our daily live and concerns us all.” (Mausfeld, 2015)

See also:

Occlusion & fragmentation of information

If information is partially occluded and fragmented, we are oftentimes unable to identify the underlying pattern (see Figure 1).

However, as soon as the causal reason for the fragmentation becomes available to us (i.e., when we become aware of the visual or ideological “mask”) we are able to use inferential deductive cognitive reasoning processes to identify (and understand) the underlying pattern – despite the fragmentation of information/knowledge (see Figure 2). Without this “causative information” which masks the underlying pattern the likelihood of successful pattern recognition is minute (note that both figures display the letter “R” in various orientations – the difference between them is that Figure 2 shows the mask whereas Figure 1 does not) .Insight1 (cf. Köhler, 1925)2 into the mechanism which causes the occlusion and fragmentation thus allows us to understand the broader meaning of the percept (or the psychological narrative), viz., we are able to see “the bigger picture” in context. This contextual knowledge can be a visual mask or a historical pattern (as outlined below). The adumbrated perceptual analogy is thus generalisable across prima vista unrelated domains (i.e., it is domain non-specific).

The same idea can be applied to the social sphere. An understanding of the mechanisms which undergird “neoliberal psychological indoctrination” is crucial in order to understand the “bigger picture” – the “holistic gestalt” (Ash, 1998; Sharps & Wertheimer, 2000) of the social, political, economic, and academic environment we inhabit. Based on this overarching knowledge we can then “try our best” to take an appropriate and responsible course of action. However, we first have to perceive and acknowledge the problem. That is, a valid diagnosis is primary. Without this broader understanding we “lose sight of the wood for the trees” (cf. global vs. local perception/information processing), that is, we attend to seemingly unrelated semantic information fragments without an understanding of their mutual interrelations. Interestingly, emotions & affective states play a significant modulatory role in the underlying cognitive processes (e.g., Basso, Schefft, Ris, & Dember, 1996; Gasper & Clore, 2002; Huntsinger, Clore, & Bar-Anan, 2010). In other words, our emotional system is centrally involved in perception and reasoning. Therefore, the emotional system (i.e., limbic system) can be systematically manipulated in order to interfere with rational higher-order (prefrontal) cognitive processes which are necessary for logical inferential reasoning and problem-solving. Primordial fear (phylogenetically ancient amygdalae circuitry) is perhaps the most significant inhibitor of higher-order cognitive processes.

Gross, C. T., & Canteras, N. S.. (2012). The many paths to fear. Nature Reviews Neuroscience

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1038/nrn3301
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Povinelli, D. J., & Bering, J. M.. (2002). The mentality of apes revisited. Current Directions in Psychological Science

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1111/1467-8721.00181
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Ruiz, G., & Sánchez, N.. (2014). Wolfgang Köhler’s the mentality of apes and the animal psychology of his time. Spanish Journal of Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1017/sjp.2014.70
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Edaward BernaysWalter LippmannBertold BrechtErich Fromm

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” (Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928)
  • Bernays, E. L. (1928). Propaganda. Horace Liveright.
  • Bernays, E. L. (1936). Freedom of Propaganda. Vital Speeches of the Day, 2(24), 744–746.
  • L’Etang, J. (1999). The father of spin: Edward L. Bernays and the birth of public relations. Public Relations Review, 25(1), 123–124.

“That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. . . . [a]s a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power…. Under the impact of propaganda, not necessarily in the sinister meaning of the word alone, the old constants of our thinking have become variables. It is no longer possible, for example, to believe in the original dogma of democracy; that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart. Where we act on that theory we expose ourselves to self-deception, and to forms of persuasion that we cannot verify. It has been demonstrated that we cannot rely upon intuition, conscience, or the accidents of casual opinion if we are to deal with the world beyond our reach. …  The public must be put in its place, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd.” (Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, Chapter XV)

  • Lippmann, W. (1920). Liberty and the News. Museum.
  • Lippmann, W. (1970). The Phantom Public. Politics.

From 1930 onwards, Brecht became part of a wider complex of projects exploring the role of intellectuals (or “Tuis” as he called them) in a capitalist society. A Tui is an intellectual who sells his or her abilities and opinions as a commodity in the marketplace or who uses them to support the dominant ideology of an oppressive society. ] The German modernist theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht invented the term and used it in a range of critical and creative projects, including the material that he developed in the mid-1930s for his so-called Tui-Novel—an unfinished satire on intellectuals in the German Empire and Weimar Republic—and his epic comedy from the early 1950s, Turandot or the Whitewashers’ Congress. The word is a neologism that results from the acronym of a word play on “intellectual” (“Tellekt-Ual-In”).
According to Clark (2006):
“… the critique of intellectuals which Brecht developed… around the notion of ‘Tuismus’ engages a model of the public intellectual in which the self-image of the artist and thinker as a socially and politically engaged person corresponded to the expectations of the public.”

  • Clark, M. W. (2006). Hero or villain? Bertolt Brecht and the crisis surrounding June 1953. Journal of Contemporary History.
  • Hunt, T. C. N.-. (2004). Goodbye to Berlin:  For 200 years, German thinkers have shaped British intellectual life – but their influence is fading fast. The Guardian.

“It is very useful to differentiate between rational and irrational authority. By irrational authority I mean authority exercised by fear and pressure on the basis of emotional submission. This is the authority of blind obedience, the authority you will find most clearly expressed in all totalitarian countries.

But there is another kind of authority, rational authority by which I mean any authority which is based on competence and knowledge, which permits criticism, which by its very nature tends to diminish, but which is not based on the emotional factors of submission and masochism, but on the realistic recognition of the competence of the person for a certain job.”

― 1958. The Moral Responsibility of Modern Man, in: Merrill-Palmer. Quarterly of Behavior and Development, Detroit, Vol. 5, p. 6.

“No expert certification is required to think about these questions, even if the ruling elites try their best to restrict discourse about them to a narrow group of “qualified experts”. As “citoyens”, well-informed and dutiful citizens trying to actively participate in forming our community, we possess what in the age of enlightenment came to be called “lumen naturale”: We are endowed with a natural reasoning faculty that allows us to engage in debates and decisions about matters which directly affect us. We can therefore adequately discuss the essential core of the ways in which grave violations of law and morality are hidden from our awareness without having some specialist education.” (Mausfeld, 2015)

Despite the clear words of these very influential and prominent personalities (i.e., Bernays and Lippmann) some social psychologists argue that “irrational conspiracy theories” are based on fallacious and “illusionary pattern perception” – but see article below.

By contrast, compare the following websites for more information on the actual origin of the “conspiracy theory meme”. According to the in-depth analyses of these scholars, governmental ‘think tanks’ (e.g., well-paid social psychologists) played a crucial role in the invention of the term “conspiracy theory” which is used to prima facie discredit those who challenge the mainstream narrative propagandized by the mass-media and other other social institutions (e.g., schools & universities). The social sciences & humanities have a long well-documented history of contributing to the systematic manipulation of public attitudes & opinions (the public relations industry and the social sciences/humanities are obviously deeply intertwined) (cf. weaponized anthropology). Today, the cognitive neurosciences joined the choir (cf. techniques of neuro-marketing). Psychology (and science in general) is a two-sided sword. It can be used to contribute to the unfoldment of human potential (the humanistic perspective which emphasises liberty and self-actualisation a la Maslow) or the same methods can be used to manipulate and control people (the neoliberal doctrine a la Bernays which focuses on power and submission to authority). It is self-evident on which side of the bipolar continuum (viz., humanism versus neoliberalism) humanity finds itself at the moment…

See also:

neoliberal indoctrination - Copy

Mausfeld_Why do the lambs remain silent_2015




Ash, M. G. (1998). Gestalt psychology in German culture, 1890-1967 : holism and the quest for objectivity. Cambridge Studies in the History of Psychology.

Basso, M. R., Schefft, B. K., Ris, M. D., & Dember, W. N. (1996). Mood and global-local visual processing. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

Gasper, K., & Clore, G. L. (2002). Attending to the big picture: Mood and global versus local processing of visual information. Psychological Science.

Huntsinger, J. R., Clore, G. L., & Bar-Anan, Y. (2010). Mood and Global-Local Focus: Priming a Local Focus Reverses the Link Between Mood and Global-Local Processing. Emotion.

Sharps, M. J., & Wertheimer, M. (2000). Gestalt Perspectives on Cognitive Science and on Experimental Psychology. Review of General Psychology.

Manufacturing consent

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a book written by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, in which the authors propose that the mass communication media of the U.S. “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”, by means of the propaganda model of communication.[1] The title derives from the phrase “the manufacture of consent,” employed in the book Public Opinion (1922), by Walter Lippmann (1889–1974).[2]

The book was first published in 1988 and was revised 20 years later to take account of developments such as the fall of the Soviet Union. There has been debate about how the internet has changed the public´s access to information since 1988.