Does Public Diplomacy Sway Foreign Public Opinion? Identifying the Effect of High-Level Visits

American Political Science Review, forthcoming

66 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2021

See all articles by Benjamin E. Goldsmith

Benjamin E. Goldsmith

School of Politics & International Relations - Australian National University

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Kelly Matush

Florida State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 10, 2021

Abstract

Although many governments invest significant resources in public-diplomacy campaigns, there is little well-identified evidence of these efforts’ effectiveness. We examine the impacts of a major type of public diplomacy: high-level visits by national leaders to other countries. We combine a dataset of the international travels of 15 leaders from9 countries over 11 years, with worldwide surveys administered in 38 host countries. By comparing 32,456 respondents interviewed just before or just after the first day of each visit, we show that visiting leaders can increase public approval among foreign citizens. The effects do not fade away immediately and are particularly large when public-diplomacy activities are reported by the news media. In most cases, military capability differentials between visiting and host countries do not appear to confer an advantage in the impact of public diplomacy. These findings suggest that public diplomacy has the potential to shape global affairs through soft power.

Keywords: public diplomacy; high-level visits; soft power; public opinion

JEL Classification: C21, D74, D78, D83

Suggested Citation

Goldsmith, Benjamin E. and Horiuchi, Yusaku and Matush, Kelly, Does Public Diplomacy Sway Foreign Public Opinion? Identifying the Effect of High-Level Visits (February 10, 2021). American Political Science Review, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3566347 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3566347

Benjamin E. Goldsmith

School of Politics & International Relations - Australian National University ( email )

Canberra
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/goldsmith-b

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Kelly Matush

Florida State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Talahasse, FL 30306
United States

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