Perpetuating Patriotic Perceptions: The Cognitive Funtion of the Cold War

By Matthew S. Hirshberg | Go to book overview

10
Choosing Sides with the Cold War Schema

We're for the good guys. . . . I know who the good guys and the bad guys are.

-- Secretary of State George Shultz ( The New York Times, February 28, 1986, p. A6)

How do we know who the good guys and the bad guys are? Americans have at their disposal an array of criteria for determining which side to support in a foreign or international conflict. The cold war schema provides a number of particularly important criteria, many of which Secretary of State Shultz used to arrive at the above conclusion about Nicaragua.

According to the cold war schema, the side of the United States, freedom, and democracy is the good side, and the side of the Soviet Union, communism, and oppression is the bad side. When a cold war schema user chooses side in a foreign or international conflict, associating one or both of the protagonists with one or more of these six elements of the schema is likely to affect sidetaking. If balance theory is correct, there should be a tendency for cold war schema users to favor whoever is positively associated with the United States, freedom, or democracy, or negatively associated with the Soviet Union, communism, or oppression.

In the experiment presented in this chapter, subjects were presented with news reports of a foreign conflict in which one side was either supported by the United States, supported by the Soviet Union, referred to as "democratic," or referred to as "communist." As cold war schema users would have been expected to do,

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Perpetuating Patriotic Perceptions: The Cognitive Funtion of the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - "America Won the Cold War!": an Introduction 1
  • Note 14
  • Part I - The Cold War Schema in America 15
  • 2 - Cognition, Culture, and the Cold War Schema 17
  • 3 - Cold War Opinion in America 50
  • Notes 95
  • 4 - Cold War Themes in American Culture 97
  • 5 - Central American Elections on Network News: Cases of Cold War Framing 107
  • Note 123
  • Part II - Cognitive Effects of the Cold War Schema 125
  • 6 - Common Meanings for Cold War Concepts 127
  • Notes 142
  • 7 - Balance, Stability, and Change in the Cold War Schema 144
  • Notes 162
  • 8 - Attributions for Superpower Interventions 163
  • Note 180
  • 9 - Cold War Goals in American Foreign Policy: Nicaragua and the World 181
  • Note 187
  • 10 - Choosing Sides with the Cold War Schema 188
  • 11 - Recalling Information Consistent with the Cold War Schema 197
  • 12 - Conclusion 209
  • References 213
  • Index 223
  • About the Author *
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