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Authors: Cotter, Kristin
Advisors: Aksoy, Deniz
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: This thesis investigates the relationship between public opinion about the United States and public opinion about terrorism, particularly in the Middle East. Previous research studying this topic has found that attitudes towards the U.S. influence attitudes towards terrorism. However, unlike past research, this thesis disaggregates individual opinions about the U.S. in order to investigate more specific opinions about American people, American leadership, and the perceived threat of U.S. power and influence. Using Pew survey data, I perform linear and ordered logit regressions to examine the relationship between these opinions about the U.S. and support for terrorist organizations, namely Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. I find that in the Middle East individuals with unfavorable opinions of the U.S. have more favorable opinions of terrorist groups. This is the case when looking at their opinions about Americans, American leadership, and their perceptions of the threat posed by the power and influence of the U.S. to other countries. Opinions about the threat of U.S. power and influence have the strongest ties to support for terrorist groups, while opinions about American people have the weakest ties to support for terrorist groups. The policy implications of this thesis concern ways in which the U.S. can most efficiently and successfully improve its public image abroad, with the intention of combating terrorism by reducing its sources of public support. The key policy implication of my findings is that ameliorating perceptions of the threat posed by the U.S. in volatile regions of the world would likely yield the most promising results in reducing public support for terrorism and terrorist groups.
Extent: 124 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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