Information has long determined the outcome of war, both on the battlefield and by winning hearts and minds. With examples dating back to the Trojan Horse from 12th century BCE to Operation Fortitude of WOII, and more recently the surprise counter offensive launched by the Ukrainian army in Kharkiv, instead of Kherson. Which can be considered a modern version of Operation Fortitude. These examples show how, throughout history, targeting the cognitive environment in order to influence the physical behaviour has been an important factor in deciding the outcome of war, on and off the battlefield
These tactics target the cognitive domain of individuals, where the decision-making process takes place, in order to exert changes in their physical behaviour. Ultimately, the aim is to influence the decision-making process of individuals in order to compel them to behave in a certain manner. Besides carrying out influence operations, assessing the sustained effects by and against hostile forces is equally as important to decide the outcomes of battles, and with that, wars. However, carrying out such measurements to determine effectiveness of behavioural influencing operations remains an empty spot in most influencing operations.
This paper sets out an overview of methods to measure the effect of behavioural influencing operations in a military context, with a focus on the processes and different stages associated with effect measurement. In doing so, it seeks to explore under which conditions, and with which tools the effects of behavioural influencing tactics can be measured. This allows for determining the effectiveness of interventions, and it aids the effectiveness and predictability of the use of behavioural influencing tactics. As such, this paper serves as a basis and steppingstone for further research into the topic that is effect measurement of behavioural influencing in the military context. Including what can still be possible in the future regarding emerging technologies.
The authors would like to thank Björn de Heer, Johan Koers, and Linde Arentze for sharing their expertise and experience which have significantly contributed to the overall content and quality of this research paper. Evidently, the content of this paper is the sole responsibility of the authors.
This paper has been written as part of the project Platform Influencing Human Behaviour, commissioned by the Royal Netherlands Army. The aim of this platform is to build and share knowledge on information-based Behavioural Influencing (BI) in the military context, dissecting the ethical, legal and military-strategic issues and boundaries involved. Responsibility for the content rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should it be construed as, an endorsement by the Royal Netherlands Army.
Cover image credit: Dan Asaki, via Unsplash