Influence Operations and Behavioural Change

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Academic Publishing Limited


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Information Science / Security Research Centre (secAU)




This article was originally published as: Hutchinson, W. E., & Warren, M. (2010). Influence operations and behavioural change. Proceedings of European Conference on Information Warfare and Security. (pp. 116-119). Thessalonica, Greece. Academic Publishing Limited. Original article available here.


The intended outcome of Information Operations appears to be a favourable change (to the instigator) in attitudes or belief systems of the target, however, the relationship between attitude and behaviour is tenuous. Propaganda and other methods of ‘influence’ are difficult to assess as the cause and effect relationship is complicated. The short term effects of psychological warfare where force is used in conjunction with influence techniques can be easily assessed; at least at a superficial level. Even in the latter case, the actual causes and effects could be solely the force used or some other factors rather than the psychological techniques per se. Influence Operations attempt to win the hearts and minds of the target audience but, even if successful, the lasting effects of a campaign are problematic. It is further complicated because if a person has a particular view, it does not mean that the ensuing behaviours will reflect that view. Also, there is evidence that the use of force on one set of people produces attitudes and behaviours that instigate radical beliefs and behaviours in another set. So psychological warfare techniques on one group that may or may not produce compliant behaviour stimulates another group to empathise with the victims thus producing an overall practical negative influence. Influence campaigns cannot be separated from the physical environment in which they are executed. If good politics requires good influence campaigns then good influence campaigns require good politics to back them up. This paper will examine the relationships between short term influence campaigns and compare them with the more long term socialising effects such as early education, family and physical attributes that have on attitudes and beliefs which result in the development of such behaviours as terrorism.