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The Olympics As A Public Relations Strategy: Americans Views About China Before And After The 2008 Beijing Olympics

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Research examining Americans' perceptions of China before and after the 2008 Olympics. Implications for using Olympics as a public relation strategy to change global perceptions.

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The Olympics As A Public Relations Strategy: Americans Views About China Before And After The 2008 Beijing Olympics

  1. 1. The Influence of Media on Beliefs The Olympics As A Public Relations Strategy: Americans Views About China Before And After The 2008 Beijing Olympics Pamela B. Rutledge Fielding Graduate University
  2. 2. Purpose To address a gap in the literature on belief formation and conflict by examining the impact of information sources on the beliefs that predispose individuals toward conflict
  3. 3. Globalization  Communication technologies  McLuhan’s global village  New definitions of identity and culture are no longer confined by geographic boundaries  Globalization will not go away
  4. 4. New Relationship with China  Technology has led to rapid economic growth with global implications  Jobs  Energy  Loss of Soviet Union as enemy ‘promotes’ China
  5. 5. Media Makes China the Enemy  Media defines nations through images and symbols  Americans know very little about China and culture is difficult to understand  Easy to stereotype  Information about China is often inaccurate  Government control  Journalistic license and old metaphors  Consistent negative framing
  6. 6. The 2008 Beijing Olympics  Olympics bring increased media attention  Intangible benefits  Qualitative features of media coverage
  7. 7. Information Sources  Media is pervasive  Qualitatively different channels elicit different cognitive and affective responses  Measurements of media consumption still being developed  What do we want to measure?  Attention  Time  Recall  Meaning
  8. 8. Psychology of Fear What Gets our Attention?  The human brain uses economy measures to process information  Salience  Relevance  Mental models (stereotypes)  Fear an effective way of eliciting an affective response  Triggered by perceptions of significant and personally- relevant threat Fear of Threats  Risk assessed against perceived efficacy rather than prior experience  Mass perceptions of threat influence national policy and international relations  Fear increases the need to affiliate
  9. 9. The Role of Identity in Conflict  Social psychology conflict literature originally focused on group identity and affiliation  Returning to role of self and individual  Freud, Vygotsky, Personality theorists,  Evolutionary Psychology  From self to social  More system-oriented  Self and social identity conflictual in nature COSMIDES, PINKER, TOOBY, FREUD, VYGOTSKY, TAJFEL, ASCH, KELMAN, SEN, BREWER
  10. 10. Why Affiliate?  Motivations for affiliation  Self-esteem, status, value  Uncertainty reduction, terror reduction  Shift focus from self-esteem to order-seeking  Biological and psychological need for order  Internal consistency  Biological imperative for survival
  11. 11.  Evaluative filters to process information and experience  Continually reconstructed through interaction with the wider social system  Core beliefs serve need for internal consistency  Social psychology articulates interaction of the individual with social structures  Social identity theory  Self-categorization theory  Relative deprivation theory  Core beliefs operate at both individual and group levels Definition Integration Core Beliefs Cognitive psychology distills conflict into core beliefs that establish the themes that drive human behavior
  12. 12. Five Domain Framework  Central beliefs to group conflict  Vulnerability  Injustice  Helplessness  Distrust  Superiority  Operate at three levels:  Individual view of personal world  Individual’s beliefs about their group  Individual’s perceptions about the group worldview • IGBI, Roy J. Eidelson & Eidelson (2003)
  13. 13. Information Sources Explanatory Style Core Beliefs Subjective Well-Being Attitudes toward China Group Affiliation Conflict Strategies Theoretical model Information sources and explanatory style influence conflict strategies through core beliefs, group affiliation, and attitudes toward China.
  14. 14. Media-Saturated Environment  Prevalence  98% of homes have TV  50% of Americans text message  Virtually all teenagers play video games  Cell phone subscribers equal 75% of population Source: Pew Research Center (2008) http://pewresearch.org/pubs/928/key-news- audiences-now-blend-online-and-traditional-sources
  15. 15. Methodology  Internet survey-based study  Participants provided by Zoomerang (N=896)  Likert-type questions  Data collected  June 27, 2008 (N=418),  August 27, 2008 (N=478)  Demographics:  Approximation of U.S. Census  Minimum high school education  50/50 Male/Female  Ages 18 to 44  Racial distribution  Assessment instruments  Individual and Group Beliefs Inventory  Life Orientation Test  Satisfaction with Life Survey  Group Affiliation  Conflict Strategies  Attitudes toward China  Media measures  Preference  Percentage use  Political orientation  Analysis  Bivariate correlation  Multiple regression
  16. 16. The Hypotheses More television increases core beliefs New media decreases core beliefs Optimism decreases core beliefs Olympics media increases core beliefs Core beliefs increase group affiliation, attitudes toward China and conflict strategies
  17. 17.  Results
  18. 18. Empirical Analysis Empirical analysis conducted in 2 stages:  1st stage: Correlations between media use, explanatory style, core beliefs and conflict measures  2nd stage: Regression analyses to estimate the model
  19. 19. Correlation Analysis  In general, optimism proved to be significantly correlated with core beliefs at both the personal and group levels  Broadcast media was significantly correlated with most core beliefs and conflict measures at the group level  Broadcast media split into liberal and conservative programming proved to be significantly correlated with most core beliefs at the individual and group levels
  20. 20. IGBI-IG Vulnerabilit y IGBI-IG Injustice IGBI-IG Helplessness IGBI-IG Distrust IGBI-IG Superiority Group Negativity SWLS IG LOT-R Scale -.20** -.071* -.263** -.074* -0.042 -.201** .203** Broadcast 1st Choice .113** .121** 0.059 0.064 0.045 .118** 0.048 New Media 1st Choice -.098** -.118** 0.033 -.069* -0.059 -.085* -0.04 % Television .076* .156** -0.013 0.058 .122** .093** .066* % Internet -.070* -.148** -0.028 -.10** -.09** -.12** -0.052 Liberal Television -0.054 -.100** 0.054 -.097** -0.063 -.068* 0.011 Conservative Television .143** .144** 0.022 .111** .132** .140** .148** N = 896, * p < .05, ** p < .01 Correlations Group Level: Optimism
  21. 21. IGBI-IG Vulnerability IGBI-IG Injustice IGBI-IG Helplessness IGBI-IG Distrust IGBI-IG Superiority Group Negativity SWLS IG LOT-R Scale -.20** -.071* -.263** -.074* -0.042 -.201** .203** Broadcast 1st Choice .113** .121** 0.059 0.064 0.045 .118** 0.048 New Media 1st Choice -.098** -.118** 0.033 -.069* -0.059 -.085* -0.04 % Television .076* .156** -0.013 0.058 .122** .093** .066* % Internet -.070* -.148** -0.028 -.10** -.09** -.12** -0.052 Liberal Television -0.054 -.100** 0.054 -.097** -0.063 -.068* 0.011 Conserv. Television .143** .144** 0.022 .111** .132** .140** .148** N = 896, * p < .05, ** p < .01 Correlations Group Level: Broadcast Media
  22. 22. IGBI-IG Vulnerabilit y IGBI-IG Injustice IGBI-IG Helplessness IGBI-IG Distrust IGBI-IG Superiority Group Negativity SWLS IG LOT-R Scale -.20** -.071* -.263** -.074* -0.042 -.201** .203** Broadcast 1st Choice .113** .121** 0.059 0.064 0.045 .118** 0.048 New Media 1st Choice -.098** -.118** 0.033 -.069* -0.059 -.085* -0.04 % Television .076* .156** -0.013 0.058 .122** .093** .066* % Internet -.070* -.148** -0.028 -.10** -.09** -.12** -0.052 Liberal Television -0.054 -.100** 0.054 -.097** -0.063 -.068* 0.011 Conservative Television .143** .144** 0.022 .111** .132** .140** .148** N = 896, * p < .05, ** p < .01 Correlations Group Level: New Media
  23. 23. Information Sources Explanatory Style Core Beliefs Well-Being Attitudes toward China Group Affiliation Conflict Strategies 1. Conservative TV 2. Liberal TV 3. New Media 1st Choice 4. LOT-R Regression Analysis Phase 1 Variables 1. Vulnerability 2. Injustice 3. Helplessness 4. Distrust 5. Superiority 6. SWLS Belief = 0 + 1ICTV + 2I1stNM + 3ILTV + 4SWLS + 8PCON + 
  24. 24. Regression Analysis Phase 1 Results  In general, optimism was a significant negative predictor for core beliefs at the personal and group levels as hypothesized by the model  New media was a significant negative predictor for most core beliefs at the group level  Broadcast media, split into liberal and conservative programming, proved to significant predictors with most core beliefs at the group level
  25. 25. Regression Analysis Group Level: Conservative and Liberal Programming β Vulnerability Injustice Helplessness Distrust Superiority Well-Being Conservative TV 0.143** 0.135** 0.108** 0.120** 0.122** Liberal TV -0.107* -0.100** -.060* New Media 1st Choice -0.082** -0.107* -0.061* Conservative Political Beliefs 0.105** 0.207** -0.104** 0.154** 0.206** 0.188** Lot-R -0.203** -0.073* -0.266** -0.076* 0.192** N = 896, * p < .05, ** p < .01 Belief = 0 + 1ICTV + 2I1stNM + 3ILTV + 4SWLS + 8PCON +  N = 896, * p < .05, ** p < .01, predictors are in left column
  26. 26.  Significant changes in first choice preference from Internet toward television  Changes in media use had no impact on core beliefs at any level  No significant change in core beliefs pre- to post- Olympics Pre- to Post-Olympic Measures 42% 44% 46% 48% 50% 52% 54% 56% Pre-Olympics Post-Olympics Broadcast 1st Choice New Media 1st Choice N = 896
  27. 27. Us versus Them 3.80 3.85 3.90 3.95 4.00 Pre-Olympics Post-Olympics Group Affiliation 3.08 3.10 3.12 3.14 3.16 3.18 3.20 3.22 Pre-Olympics Post-Olympics Enemy Image of China N = 896, Mean
  28. 28. Information Sources Explanatory Style Core Beliefs Well-Being Attitudes toward China Group Affiliation Conflict Strategies Regression Analysis Phase 2 Variables 1. Group Affiliation 2. Positive Regard for China 3. China as the Enemy 1. Aggressive or Cooperative Conflict Strategies 1. Vulnerability 2. Injustice 3. Helplessness 4. Distrust 5. Superiority 6. SWLS Conflict Measure = 0 + 1BVUL + 2BINJ + 3BHELP + 4BDIS + 8BSUP + SWLS + 
  29. 29. Regression Analysis Phase 2 Results Predictor Dependent Variable Conservative Programming Conservative Political Views U.S. Vulnerability (IG) Unjust treatment of U.S. (IG) U.S. Superiority (IG) U.S. Vulnerability (IG) Unjust treatment of U.S. (IG) U.S. Superiority (IG) Group Affiliation China as an Enemy Conflict Strategies Subjective well being (IG) Group Affiliation China as an Enemy Conflict Strategies Conservative Political Beliefs Conflict Strategies
  30. 30. Group Affiliation Enemy Image of China Attitudes toward China Conflict Strategies Vulnerability IG .201** .119** -.200** Injustice IG .199** .233** .119** Helplessness IG -.361** .164** Distrust IG -.354** -.350** Superiority IG .103** .242** Well-Being IG .191** .178** .182** Conservative Political Beliefs .108** .057* .087** Regression Analysis: Group Beliefs and Conflict Measures Conflict Measure = 0 + 1BVUL + 2BINJ + 3BHELP + 4BDIS + 8BSUP + SWLS +  N = 896, * p < .05, ** p < .01, predictors are in left column
  31. 31. Additional Findings  Differences between belief levels were significant for all core beliefs  84% said Olympics did not change view of China  4% had traveled to China  For 96% the Olympics had no change on their attitudes about China
  32. 32. Beliefs Differences Among Levels 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Vulnerability Injustice Helplessness Distrust Superiority Personal Beliefs Personal Beliefs about the U.S. Perceptions of Most Americans Beliefs
  33. 33. Changing Views of China 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 Country People Culture Government Opinions of Chinese People and Culture Significantly More Positive than Perceptions of Chinese Government N = 478; Higher scores equal more positive perception
  34. 34. The Impact of Personal Experience on Perceptions 2.0 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.8 3.0 3.2 3.4 3.6 3.8 4.0 Group Affiliation Attitudes Toward China Enemy Image Have Traveled to China Have Not Traveled to China  4% of sample have traveled to China (N=36)  Mean differences between group means significant, p < .01 Note: N=896. Higher scores for Attitudes Toward China indicates more positive feelings.
  35. 35. 2.6 2.8 3.0 3.2 3.4 3.6 Pre Post Pre Post TravelNoTravel Attitudes Toward China 3.2 3.4 3.6 3.8 4.0 Pre Post Pre Post TravelNoTravel Group Affiliation 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 Pre Post Pre Post TravelNoTravel Enemy Image Never Traveled to China  Group affiliation increased  Attitude and enemy views either did not change or became more negative Have Traveled to China  Positive regard increased  Image of China as an enemy decreased Change in Views Pre- and Post-Olympics
  36. 36. Changes in perceptions of media accuracy from before to after the Olympics Perceptions of Media Accuracy N = 896 US Media Accuracy China's Media Accuracy 2.35 2.45 2.55 2.65 2.75 2.85 Pre-Olympics Post-Olympics
  37. 37. Conclusions  Overall model confirmed by correlations  Regression results not consistent  Only at the IG level did the information predictors confirm the model  TV predicted stronger beliefs, new media predicted decrease  Explanatory style was strong predictor  Programming content and political views emerged as strong predictors  Ideological buffer, just-world, security, biology  Well-being consistently aligned
  38. 38. Do Media Choices Matter? < Strong predictors for conflict:  Conservative political views  Group affiliation  Enemy Image  Do people choose media based on their beliefs rather than the other way around?  Basic assumptions of media effects research  Programming and media content  Validate personal identity, group affiliation, tribal allegiance  Restore order to uncertain world  Identify scapegoat
  39. 39. Orange Alert  Escalation in negative beliefs from personal to group levels  Fear as normalizing?  Projections to externalize fear  Climate of “orange alert”  Media emphasis  Biological reaction  Psychological response  Olympics television coverage benign to positive  Negative attitudes increased
  40. 40. Gated Communities of Ideology  Frightened people build gated communities  Media becomes ritual for affirmation not a quest for knowledge  Increased measures of subjective well-being indicates successful wall building  Media producers are driven by economics not ideology  Challenge to create messages that break through walls
  41. 41. Limitations  Population: self-selected from Zoomerang market poll  Apathetic or representative?  Media measures  Conflict identified as U.S. versus China  Television coverage distracted by Russia-Georgia military confrontation  No true repeated measures (pre-post) design, although samples were similar in demographics
  42. 42. Future Research  Technical issues: survey data, sample  Cross-cultural comparison, i.e. China’s point of view  Perceptions of conflict and the “other”  Effectiveness of global media event  Media choice with core beliefs and social zeitgeist  Effect of media events and content on nation brands  Media content compared with viewer perceptions and beliefs  Types and strength of belief clustering as precursors to conflict
  43. 43. Reflections  Importance of recognizing simultaneity in media psychology  Needs system analysis  Disconnected research across disciplines  Analytical frameworks, jargon, measures  Ivory Silos  Media is not a “thing.” It is a conduit for who we are and what we do  Media reinforces beliefs does not create them
  44. 44. Conclusion  Perceptions of China were not significantly changed by Olympic coverage  Viewers’ beliefs about their own and their countries vulnerabilities were the stronger predictors of perceptions of China as an enemy, regardless of programming  Viewers’ programming choices reflected their beliefs, not the other way around  The only significant positive change in perceptions of China came from people who had visited China in person
  45. 45. Implications  The massive financial investment in the Olympics does not results in negative perceptions turning positive  Brands should consider their own goals and potential halo effects in where and how they choose to make sponsorship investments  Increased fear and the sense of vulnerability increases the need for us vs. them thinking and the creation of villains  No easy solutions:  Increase sense of safety of home populations  Increase opportunities for personal contact and exchange
  46. 46. Thank You

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