Pandering is the practice of adapting public statements and actions to fit the culture within a given group of persons. Essentially, pandering is intended to placate the individuals who make up the group, and allow the speaker to make a connection with the group as a whole. Pandering is a technique that is employed in a number of different professions, notably politics.
One of the most often cited examples of pandering is the political hopeful who is running for election. In order to win, the politician must be able to garner enough support from voters at the time elections are held. This often means attempting to win the support of more than one subculture within the populace. As a result, politicians will employ the art of pandering in order to attract the attention of a wider variety of people.
It is important to note that the art of pandering does not necessarily mean to engage in telling untruths. Often, pandering involves carefully selecting verbiage that will be interpreted favorably by the audience, or that provides no more than a partial understanding of an opinion held by the speaker. Essentially, the panderer focuses on subjects that are important to the audience at hand and seeks to earn their favor without actually rendering a full opinion or committing to a focused course of action.
The practice of pandering may also include an approach of accentuating the positive while giving little or no attention to subjects that are likely to hold the attention of the intended audience. Factual information is presented, but only selected data that will create a favorable impression with the listener. Any facts with the potential to anger the audience will be carefully avoided.
Pandering is not limited to the political arena. Much of the work of public relations efforts for entertainers, sports figures, and other public celebrities involves carefully choosing the right subjects and right words to fit the occasion and setting. Businesses will often employ pandering techniques to overcome negative public perception of a product or the company proper. Even loved ones may pander to friends and relatives from time to time, in an effort to spare feelings or shield a loved one from bad news.