Measuring Effects and Success in Influence Operations – Challenges, Limitations and Opportunities


  1. Carrier-Sabourin, K.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Royal Military Coll of Canada, Kingston ONT (CAN)
Little research in either the military or civilian sphere has attempted to assess the effects, degree of effects, and success of influence operations, particularly in hostile environments where it may prove both difficult and unreliable to conduct traditional interviews and opinion polls. Yet it has been asserted that the decisive effects of influence operations are apparent, and can therefore be measured. This report examines the challenges, limitations, and opportunities inherent to the measurement of the effects and success of influence operations on civilian populations in hostile environments. The report discusses the limitations of current methodologies and the opportunities associated with unobtrusive measures. This discussion is based on a systematic review of the literature in the fields of psychology, anthropology and sociology, and interviews conducted with pioneers of artificial intelligence technology as a conflict early-warning system. Artificial intelligence of social media could be used to assess the effectiveness and success of influence operations in hostile environments, especially when attitudes or behaviours may be socially sensitive and might not lend themselves well to participant self-assessment, or when pre-effect data collection capacities are limited and the establishment of a baseline is not possible.

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Influence operations;Persuasion;Literature review;Social media;Anthropology;Counterpropaganda;Hostile environments;Tactical Conflict Assessment Framework
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2011-045 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Apr 2011
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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