This book explores the psychological, cultural, and political causes and effects of international perceptions. It does so with respect to American perceptions in an era dominated by a cold war mentality, but it is not meant merely to be a book about the cold war. Rather, cold war America is used as the setting in which international perceptions are examined. Of particular interest are the relationships among politics, public communication, cognitive structures, and perceptions: each affects the others in profound ways, and their interactions have a major impact on our lives. The theories and methods used in this work are borrowed from social and cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology, and communication studies: it is hoped that this broad-ranging synthesis has produced an approach to the study of political perceptions that others will find interesting and useful.
This work has benefited from the input of a number of people whom I would like to acknowledge. Lance Bennett and Steve Majeski provided ongoing encouragement and critical comments on earlier drafts of this work. Tony Greenwald, Chuck Hirshberg, Ole Holsti, and Jan Thomson also offered valuable comments on drafts of various chapters. Lori Stene helped edit the manuscript, prepared the index, and bolstered morale in the final stages. Kerry Hogan and Andrew Hoy ably assisted with various aspects of the data analysis. The study presented in Chapter 9 was the result of the combined efforts of Bob McChesney and myself. Many of the studies presented in Part II of the book were administered with the aid of graduate students in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. Finally, this book would not have taken its present form without the cooperation of hundreds of student subjects. I would like to thank all of the above people for their generous help.