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The new media landscape and targeted messages

This is a complete lesson pack with a selection of exercises that takes 120 minutes in total. The purpose of this lesson is for pupils to understand some frequently used methods of influence, and to reflect on the media landscape and targeted messages. If you prefer you can pick the exercises you think suits your group of pupils by using the filter function on the start page.

Tecknad bild på Donald Trump, CC0-Licens, Pixabay.com / MIH83

This section contains the following exercises:


  1. Think as I do! About methods of influence.
  2. Did you find the raccoons in the story? About propaganda.
  3. Buy, buy, buy! About the influence of advertising.
  4. Who controls us? About conspiracy theories.

Exercise 1 - Think as I do! About methods of influence.

There are many methods to influence people to do what you want. The classical examples of influence are whips and carrots, in other words punishment and reward. In the information we access daily a number of different methods are used to get us to think and even act in a specific way. The aim of the exercise is for pupils to firstly gain more in-depth knowledge on methods of influence, and then to examine how they are used.


Which methods of influence do you know of? Discuss which of these are the most effective. Motivate!

Group exercise

In this exercise our starting point is seven different methods that are used to get people to think in a specific way. The methods of influence are presented in the printable reference materials pdf. Print out the reference materials pdf, cut out the cards and give one card to each group. Then split the participants into seven groups where each group is responsible for one method.


  1. Create peer pressure by making them feel that the majority feel a certain way.
  2. Designate a scapegoat - give someone the blame for something he/she didn’t do.
  3. Use music, pictures and short film clips to strengthen a specific feeling.
  4. Refer to authorities and credible sources.
  5. Claim that something is a fact, although it is only an opinion.
  6. Transfer - connect a negative feeling from one thing to another, to make the other also seem negative (can also be done to make something look positive).
  7. Do not provide a complete picture without using the details so that they strengthen a specific thesis.


Instructions to participants:

  • Read your card to understand what the method is about.
  • Search for three cases on the Internet that you feel show the method. These could be films, pictures or texts.
  • Present your results. The other groups can come in if they feel that your examples also contain their methods.
  • Come up with your own example where your method of influence is represented.
  • If there is time all the groups can look for other methods that are used to influence the recipient of a message.


The groups discuss and come up with how their method of influence can be countered. This is presented in the form of a short action plan with phrases such as:

  • You should think about the following to avoid being influenced by...
    You can do this...
    You should do the following to counter this form of influence...
    In conclusion discuss in which situations it could be good to allow yourself to be influenced.

Exercise 2 - Did you find the raccoons in the story? About propaganda.

The film about raccoons, Det nya hotet, shows how you can create fear and rejection through propaganda. This has happened many times in the history of mankind, and in the worst case has helped make it possible to murder thousands of people. The aim of this exercise is to connect the conclusions in the film with real life events. This is done by examining how different groups of people have been singled out in the society they live in.

> Watch the film Det nya hotet (English subtitles)länk till annan webbplats
> Watch the film Det nya hotet - så gjorde vi filmen (English subtitles)länk till annan webbplats

Work in groups

The task is to compare the methods used in the film with some real life events:


  • Watch the film “Det nya hotet”.
    • Examine the actual events in history. How does someone work up an atmosphere of rejection of a certain group of people?
    • What methods are used? Are the same methods used as in the film about the raccoons? Give examples.
  • Events that can be examined:
    • The propaganda against Jews in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
    • The propaganda that caused the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
    • The Swedish government’s views on Romany people (Gypsies) in the 1930s and 1940s.
    • The propaganda between the groups at war in the Balkans in the 1990s.
    • The Ugandan government’s view on homosexuality in Uganda today.
    • The Russian government’s view on homosexuality in Russia today.

Exercise 3 - Buy, buy, buy! About the influence of advertising.


A lot in our society revolves around selling. Advertising is of major importance and companies invest a great deal of money in marketing. Still, most of us say that we are not influenced by adverts. Is that really true? The aim of this exercise is to practice critical examination of advertising messages.


Line exercise with the whole group

Imagine that a line runs through the room. The line symbolises a scale where the one end represents “not at all” and the other end represents “very much”. Read a statement and let the pupils place themselves on the line according to how much they agree with the statement.



  • I am influenced by adverts.
  • I belong to an important group that advertisers target specifically through tailored adverts.
  • Adverts influence our attitudes concerning looks.
  • Adverts influence out attitudes about how women and men should behave.
  • Adverts make me want to consume more.

Examine in groups

Look for two examples of adverts that you feel target you. They may be advertising images, texts and advertising films.


  • In what way does it target you?
  • What arguments are used to get you to buy?
  • Critically reflect on the advert you chose. Does it contain stereotypes, exaggerations, and so on?

Exercise 4 - Who controls us? About conspiracy theories.


A conspiracy theory is a belief that there is a conspiracy to control what happens in different contexts. The reality we think we see, through for example the media, is not true according to conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theories have always existed and are spread more easily today than ever before. One explanation for the distribution is modern technology. Many people believe in conspiracy theories and it can be extremely difficult to convince them of anything else. The aim of this exercise is to problematize why people believe in conspiracy theories and what it can lead to.


Examine in groups

Split the participants into groups and let them examine two sites (SMHI and a personal blog) which both look at the phenomenon of chemtrails. Chemtrails, are the condensation trails left by high-flying aircrafts, which according to conspiracy theorists consist of toxins that are spread in the air by the US military.

SMHI's knowledge banklänk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster

Chemtrails blog in Sweden
länk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster

Both sites are in swedish. Try to make a general assessment of the sites above and review them critically.


  • Which source is the most credible? Why?
  • What are the arguments for and against the existence of chemtrails? Motivate.
  • Google chemtrails. What hits do you get? Discuss the search results and what consequences they may have.


Follow up the discussion by letting the participants listen to the radio documentary “Giftet i luften”länk till annan webbplats (roughly translated as “poison in the air”) which is about the conspiracy theories focusing on so called “chemtrails”.


The documentary is in Swedish, it is 28 minutes long.


Summary of the radio documentary:

In the radio programme, radio hosts Martin Wicklin and Tove Palén take a journey to the periphery of reason, where conspiracies and plots reign supreme.

The programme looks at one of the fastest growing conspiracy theories called chemtrails. According to this theory the streaks you see in the sky that you thought were tracks left by airplanes, are actually a poison that the US is spraying over us. In the radio documentary listeners follow the chemtrail tracks in the clouds and meet the people that are convinced that SMHI is conspiring against us and who are investigating these claims.

Discuss and investigate

  • Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?
  • What is it about conspiracy theories that attract so many people?
  • What other conspiracy theories are there out there?
  • Illuminati is a super-conspiracy that is tied in with many other conspiracy theories. There are even people that claim that the Illuminati was behind Michael Jackson’s death. Investigate this by looking at clips from YouTube and reading other materials available on the Internet. How do you argue in favour of this? What methods of influence are used?
  • Is there anything positive about conspiracy theories?


Publicerat den 04 okt 2018

Publicerat den 04 okt 2018

60 - 120 minuter

uppkopplad enhet