Tell Me Who Is Your Leader, and I Will Tell You Who You Are: Foreign Leaders’ Perceived Personality and Public Attitudes toward Their Countries and Citizenry

Meital Balmas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The increasing visibility of prominent political leaders in news media is well documented in political science literature. The main concern that has been raised in this connection is that the complexity of political processes is being reduced to achievements and standpoints of individual politicians, and the importance of rational opinion building is discounted. The results of the current study provide the first empirical evidence to account for the misgivings about emotional effects of personalized political information on media audiences. Using data from an online experiment, this study shows that news coverage regarding behaviors and personal characteristics of a foreign leader influences (a) evaluations of personal characteristics typical of his or her nation's citizens and (b) emotional perceptions of that leader's country (sentiment and respect). This effect is shown to reflect a psychological phenomenon whereby people project their emotions and perceptions regarding a leader's personal characteristics onto his or her country and people.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)499-514
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume62
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2018, Midwest Political Science Association

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