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American Public Opinion and United States Foreign Policy Series

Investigator(s): Chicago Council on Foreign Relations

This series of quadrennial studies was designed to investigate the opinions and attitudes of the general public and a select group of opinion leaders (or elites) on matters relating to United States foreign policy and to define the parameters of public opinion within which decision-makers must operate. For purposes of this series, opinion leaders are defined as individuals in positions of leadership in government, academia, business and labor, the media, religious institutions, special interest groups, and private foreign policy organizations. In two separate surveys, both general public and elite respondents are questioned regarding various foreign policy problems, such as the relationship between domestic and foreign policy priorities, the roles of various individuals and institutions in the creation of foreign policy, and the appropriate responses of the United States to actions by the (former) Soviet Union and other countries that vary from study to study. Other questions asked of both groups cover economic aid to other nations, military aid/selling military equipment to other nations, the role of the United States in world affairs, and the use of United States troops in other parts of the world. Respondents from the general public are also asked to rate various foreign countries and American and foreign leaders on a feeling-thermometer scale.