UK Column News - 11th May: SAGE SPI-B using Applied Behavioural Psychology to manipulate Public

Today's UK Column News from 11th May 2020 covered the following topics: 1. The Government's new alert messaging system

2. How Government is using applied behavioural psychology to manipulate the public in this crisis

3. Public confusion around Lockdown rules

4. The state trumping our human rights

5. Release of Prof Neil Ferguson's faulty computer models (that lead to Lockdown) with a damning code review from experts

6. Turning civilians into an army of spies and helpers to assist the Government in achieving its ends

As the main focus, a non-peer reviewed government document from 22 March 2020 shows that SAGE's SPI-B subgroup are using applied behavioural psychology tactics on the public:


Perceived Threats

They say:

"...the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased amongst those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat…"

Where the actions they can take are the ones that the Government wants them to take .

Using Media to increase sense of Personal Threat

As part of their APEASE evaluation grid the report admits that the Government will use media to drive up fear in order to have people socially distance all the time:

Government controlled 'Social disapproval'

Additionally APEASE will use media to "increase sense of responsibility to others" and to "use and promote social approval for desired behaviours".

Government controlled 'Enablement'

"…Adequately resourced community infrastructure and mobilisation needs to be developed rapidly and with coverage across all communities…"

this means the Government will enrol Local Authorities, parish councils and charities to get their message across for them under their respective branding.

Links to Mindspace

SPI-B's work has the Government's 2010 'Mindspace' document in the background, where they openly discussed the use of psychological techniques:

In this report they admitted they will manipulate people by influencing their behaviour through public policy:

"…citizens may not fully realise that their behaviour is being changed - or, at least, how it is being changed. Clearly this opens up the Government to charges of manipulation…"

In 2013, via their Nudge Unit, the Government unleashed Applied Behavioural Psychology on the public boasting they can change our views and values and it is worth considering the involvement of Cambridge Analytica in later years and how Facebook was used to win the 2016 EU referendum.