Target Audiences’ Characteristics and Prospective in Countering Information Warfare


  • Daniel Ionel Andrei Nistor Național Defence University Carol I



Information Warfare, disruptive process, behaviour change, target audience


NATO Defense Education Enhancement Program defines Information Warfare as an operation run to get cognitive assets over the opponents, by controlling one’s own information space while disrupting the opponents’ one. Not new as a process, continuous technological progress has endowed this phenomenon with speed and instruments to fight cyber and cognitive battles, to attack perceptions, trust, polarise and disrupt societies at large. The all present and undergoing kinetic conflict between Russia and Ukraine doubled by an even stronger cognitive and information war since February 2022 has highlighted even more the need to better understand individuals’ behaviour and characteristics when faced with unconventional attacks, irrespective of a passive or active feedback. By identifying and analysing specific public categories, one can establish which are contextual variables that trigger a social reaction, to be able to then design a set of protective or defensive measures. For a full understanding of the way Information Warfare impacts people’s thinking and decision-making process, to see how a resilience plan can be designed, one should investigate not only the information war instruments but also their effects over people at large. Not knowing the voice of the hostile authors, it Is still important to understand the domestic audience and their reaction to it, so that protective actions be taken for resilience and protection, through education. The domestic public’s identity and its dominant characteristics are brought into attention to understand which is the relation between these and the way Information Warfare can be countered through education, with examples from the Russian’s hostile activity. Values, national identity, stereotypes and generalist psychological profiles will be looked at in this paper, to be put in relation to behaviours, attitude change and resistance in front of types of messages, campaigns and types of media-embedded grey zone threats. The present paper is part of a larger PhD research program that focuses on consolidating a society’s security culture through better institutional strategic communication, therefore all the findings will be used to this end.