QSS major Kasey Rhee '21 on how perceived motives of public diplomacy influence foreign public opinion

Kasey Rhee '21, a graduate of Dartmouth College who majored in Quantitative Social Science (QSS), published an article in January with Professor Charles Crabtree, a member of the Department of Government, and Yusaku Horiuchi, who is on the QSS Steering Committee and is a member of the Department of Government. The article appears in Political Behavior and is titled, "Perceived Motives of Public Diplomacy Influence Foreign Public Opinion".

Kasey is the 2021 recipient of the Native and Indigenous Ally Award. This award is presented by Native Americans at Dartmouth in recognition of an individual's exemplary support of the Dartmouth Native and Indigenous community. Kasey is now a second-year Ph.D. student in political science at Stanford University. She studies American politics and political methodology.


Although many countries engage in public diplomacy, we know relatively little about the conditions under which their efforts create foreign support for their desired policy outcomes. Drawing on the psychological theory of "insincerity aversion," we argue that the positive effects of public diplomacy on foreign public opinion are attenuated and potentially even eliminated when foreign citizens become suspicious about possible hidden motives. To test this theory, we fielded a survey experiment involving divergent media frames of a real Russian medical donation to the U.S. early in the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that an adapted news article excerpt describing Russia's donation as genuine can decrease American citizens' support for sanctions on Russia. However, exposing respondents to information suggesting that Russia had political motivations for their donation is enough to cancel out the positive effect. Our findings suggest theoretical implications for the literature on foreign public opinion in international relations, particularly about the circumstances under which countries can manipulate the attitudes of other countries' citizens.