Influence operations, or influence campaigns, have been a tool for warfare and strategic geopolitical competition for governments as long as there has been recorded history. Today, we see firsthand the Chinese government’s efforts to spread disinformation around the globe about the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as Russia’s efforts to influence the courses of American social and political futures. Geiger found that mis- and dis-information have become an increasingly effective tool for nefarious actors to influence elections, policy, and public sentiment in the United States. In other words, influence operations are an effective and low-cost means for our strategic adversaries and competitors to advance their goals and agendas.
Given U.S. adversaries’ views of influence operations, and the immense implications and potential consequences of them, there is an urgent need to advance the state of the art in measuring and assessing the impact and effectiveness of hostile influence operations. The Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division (UWT) of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) developed the Influence-to-Action Model (I-AM) in an effort to begin to address this issue. Additionally, as a part of this model development effort, we also developed the Influence-to-Action Chain Template (I-ACT) to provide a visual representation of how I-AM maps onto a generalized influence-to-action escalation pathway.
Sin, Steve, Megan Rutter, and Rhyner Washburn. 2021. “Influence-to-Action Model Development: A Tool to Assess the Impact of Foreign Influence Operations.” Final Report (Year 1) for the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences. College Park, MD: START (December).