UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The psychology of persuasion in global politics : global image, source cues, and U.S. soft power Dragojlovic, Nicolas Isak


This dissertation applies the concept of source cue effects – drawn from the political psychology literature – to the study of transnational persuasion in International Relations. As a theoretical contribution, it elaborates a set of hypotheses about the conditions under which transnational source cue effects are most likely to occur. As a substantive contribution, it focuses on how foreign publics’ perceptions of the United States and of the U.S. President shape U.S. soft power. It explores how the U.S. President’s global popularity shapes the U.S. government’s transnational persuasiveness and influences the United States’ country image, and investigates the ways in which a negative U.S. country image (anti-Americanism) constrains its foreign policy. The empirical contribution of this dissertation consists primarily of a set of original computer-based source cue and priming experiments administered to undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia in the spring and winter of 2009. The results of these experiments show that foreign actors like Presidents Obama and Clinton and the United States can exert source cue effects on a Canadian audience. Furthermore, they point to three key moderators of transnational source cue effects: 1) the popularity of the source in question, 2) the audience’s familiarity with the source, and 3) the way in which the message source is covered in the news media. The experiments also show that priming a popular U.S. President like Barack Obama significantly improves participants’ overall attitudes towards the United States when compared to their attitudes if an unpopular president like George W. Bush is primed. In a separate empirical analysis, the dissertation also uses a cross-national dataset to show that aggregate attitudes towards the United States were associated with state decisions to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and their subsequent decisions to withdraw their forces from the operation.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International