Nav: Home

US image abroad: It's the message not the messenger

November 30, 2018

Today's political climate in the U.S. is often peppered with animosity from the U.S. president towards other countries but how has the U.S. image fared? A Dartmouth study finds that the U.S. image abroad appears to be influenced more by policy content than by the person delivering the message, even if it is the U.S. president. The results are published in Political Behavior.

Conducted in Japan, the study gauges how U.S. policy messages impact foreign public opinion and is among the first to analyze the effects of a message's various elements.

"Our study reveals that Japanese public opinion of the U.S. depends largely on whether a policy message is cooperative or uncooperative in nature, rather than on who makes that statement," says co-author Yusaku Horiuchi, professor of government and the Mitsui Professor of Japanese Studies at Dartmouth. "Only when the message is uncooperative and attributed to U.S. President Donald Trump does it have a significant effect on changing attitudes, illustrating how Trump's influence on foreign public opinion appears to be conditional on policy content," adds Horiuchi.

To evaluate foreign public opinion of the U.S., the researchers administered a randomized survey experiment in April - May 2017 to more than 3,000 Japanese citizens of voting age. The messages presented varied by source cue, policy content and issue salience. Policy statements were attributed to either "U.S. President Donald Trump" or "an anonymous U.S. Congressman." The policy content presented was either cooperative or uncooperative in tone and drew on issues facing U.S. - Japan relations, which varied by importance: security (highly salient) and educational/cultural exchange programs (low salience).

For example, respondents were presented with varying statements regarding U.S. defense spending for the protection of Japan: one message attributed to an anonymous U.S. Congressman underscored defense cooperation while the other attributed to President Trump reflected the position that the U.S. should not get involved in Japan's defense policy.

The policy messages used in the study were mostly based on statements made either by Trump during his presidential campaign or by his administration during budget proposals. Following each policy message, respondents were asked to indicate if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the U.S., Americans, U.S. foreign policy or Donald Trump.

The researchers analyzed the survey data to examine how the source cue, policy content and issue salience impact foreign public opinion as a whole in addition to analyzing the interactions between these factors. Regardless of the types of respondents (e.g., with high vs. low education, with high vs. low interest in politics), the effect of the policy content outweighs the source cue effect.

"If our case of Japan is any indication, Trump's damaging effect on the U.S. international image might not be as irreparable as many in and outside the U.S. believe it to be," explained the co-authors.
Available for comment is Yusaku Horiuchi at Horiuchi co-authored this paper with Alexander Agadjanian, a Dartmouth '18 alumnus, who was a student at the time of the study and is currently a research associate at the MIT Election and Data Science Lab. Follow the co-authors on Twitter: @YusakuHoriuchi and @A_agadjanian.

Dartmouth College

Related Attributed Articles:

US image abroad: It's the message not the messenger
Today's political climate in the US is often peppered with animosity from the US president towards other countries but how has the US image fared?
Global warming has never stopped in the past hundred years
The global warming has never stopped in the past hundred years, with maximum rate of change after Second World War II and almost constant rate during the latest three decades.
Evolution: Genetics doesn't matter much in forming society
Genetics isn't as important as once thought for the evolution of altruistic social behavior in some organisms, a new insight into a decade-long debate.
When a tree lost is, or isn't, permanent deforestation: Mapping global forest loss
Despite numerous efforts by international governments, corporations and conservationists to reduce it, the overall rate of a permanent type of forest loss known as commodity-driven forest loss has not changed since 2001, a new map-based study reports.
York U researcher identifies 15 new species of stealthy cuckoo bees
Cuckoo bees sneakily lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species, after which their newly hatched prodigies kill the host egg or larva, and then feed on the stored pollen.
Causes of death in rheumatoid arthritis patients
Mortality rates were increased for patients with rheumatoid arthritis relative to the general population across all causes of death in a recent Arthritis Care & Research analysis.
Researchers examine how errors affect credibility of online reviews
Shoppers increasingly consult online reviews before making holiday purchases. But how do they decide which reviewers to trust?
US companies are investing less in science
A new article reveals that large corporations are investing less in science.
Blame often attributed to others in patient safety incident reports
This research is published in the September/October 2017 Annals of Family Medicine.
Report confirms 2016 was another warm year
A new report published in Weather confirms that 2016 was another exceptionally warm year, with global temperature having reached 0.77± 0.09 degrees C above its level between 1961 and 1990.

Related Attributed Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...