Why We Fight and The Focused Interview. Cinema and Social Science during World War II

Co-authored with Ramon Girona. Published in Comunicació: Revista de Recerca i d’Anàlisi, 2015, volume 32, number 1: 53-71.

During World War II, the U.S. military suggested troop indoctrination methods that combined physical and technical training with rational formation. The series of documentary films Why We Fight was one of the best examples of these new methods. WWF tried to activate the rational part of the soldier, providing him with comprehensive information about the war, while at the same time this rational argument became the foundation on which emotional stimulation strategies were built. Besides being a key player in the Army’s educational program, however, WWF was also a breakthrough in audience reaction research. In connection with this, techniques such as the focused interview were developed to investigate the responses of soldiers when faced with these films. It appears that the aim of this method was to evaluate reactions and to propose changes in the films in order to better achieve their purpose of moral and psychological indoctrination.