Measuring “Shared Values”

The post-9/11 “Shared Values” is frequently criticized, but I have seen few analyses of the program. Without comment, here’s one such analysis I found: Reactions to the Shared Values Initiative by Alice Kendrick and Jami A. Fullerton, PhD’s from Southern Methodist University and Oklahoma State University, respectively.

4 Replies to “Measuring “Shared Values””

  1. Interesting study, but not very informative. For one thing, the sample is of students studying abroad, meaning that for the most part they are highly educated elites. 70% of them are European. I don’t know what counted in Beers’s strategy as a country with a high Muslim population, but if you exclude the Balkans no European countries fit that description. The slides don’t even say if they were all Muslim. So the sample isn’t really representative of “the people” who the videos targeted.Also, as foreign exchange students they presumably have some degree of interest in and affinity for Western culture. Almost all wanted to visit the U.S. This means they are more motivated to process the argument in detail, so the results would over-estimate the amount and endurance of attitude change resulting from the spots.
    Finally, even ignoring that, the results don’t look that good for the shared values campaign. Small movements on the judgment scales, even if significant, and 70% said they weren’t believable.
    One thing I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find out: I’ve only seen these spots in English. Were they subtitled for foreign languages? Surely they were, but I’ve never found anything that says so for sure, and/or in what languages. Does anyone reading this know?

  2. The Shared Values Initiative was produced in multiple languages.We expanded our study that you reference above and published it in a book called, “Advertising’s War on Terrorism: The story of the U.S. State Department’s Shared Values Initiative.” I hope you’ll read it.
    We were able to test some young people in Egypt with the same results. But the methodology suffers from some of the same problems you mention above.
    Having said that, it is compelling that one exposure to a pro-U.S. message could improve attitude toward America by a statistically significant amount. Like I tell my students, “they went from really hating us to just kinda hating us.”
    I hope the new administration seriously considers public diplomacy and the potential use of mass media to accomplish some of its goals.

  3. I will put that book on my reading list. Clearly there are limits to what any academic study on this subject will be able to accomplish unless it is very well resourced. That’s why it would be nice if the State Department would tell us what it learned about the effectiveness of the campaign. After all, we paid for it and it’s not secret or anything.On the other hand, as GAO and DSB have repeatedly pointed out, the government doesn’t do a very good job on the research side of these kinds of efforts, so maybe they don’t know, either. My guess is that if it was moving $15 million worth of opinion, it wouldn’t have been pulled.

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