The Hybrid Wars of Information

Research question/goal: 

The war for hearts and minds among the great powers is at least as important as conflict fought with conventional weapons. One of its most recent incarnations is the hybrid propaganda war, levied by Moscow against the West. This is a sophisticated, well-funded and multipronged attempt to bring domestic publics in the West around to the Russian regime’s viewpoint. Prior research identified and described attempts at hybrid propaganda war. In this project, we seek to analyse the prevalence and the effectiveness of these attempts in Western societies. We build on theories of international relations, public opinion formation, and psychology to examine which strategic use of (mis)information from abroad is effective and which is not. The project will also explore conditioning factors at the individual and contextual level. In terms of methodology, it relies—among others—on experiments included in surveys, which will be fielded in several Western countries.

Current stage: 

In 2021, we worked on a theoretical paper in which we developed a model for the use of disinformation strategies by political elites. Moreover, we examined the link between authoritarian predispositions and political mobilisation in democracies. Two other papers, which address disinformation interventions in German election campaigns and effects of specific messages on citizens’ attitudes, are in preparation. Three papers have been published/accepted for publication in political science and economics journals.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
MZES
Duration: 
2016 to 2023
Status: 
in preparation
Data Sources: 
Surveys
Geographic Space: 
Europe, United States

Publications