Elite Perceptions of the US

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About

This site supports Chatham House’s major Elite Perceptions of the US project, which analyses America's image abroad, and how the effectiveness of US foreign policy can be undermined by misunderstandings and misperceptions of US intentions. By identifying how others view the US and what factors shape those views, the project aims to help US policy-makers better shape their future work.

Work on the US and the Americas at Chatham House concentrates on the changing role of the US in the world. Building on the independent, international reputation of Chatham House, the programme provides a unique external perspective on the US. The programme aims to:

  • develop a contextual understanding of the transformations taking place within the US and internationally, to analyse how they affect US foreign policy;
  • offer predictions on America's likely future international direction;
  • influence responses from allies and others towards the US; and
  • highlight to American policy-makers the intended, and unintended, impact of their policies overseas.

Methodology

As with most research, our results are not a statistically significant sample. But the purpose of this research is qualitative rather than quantitative; it is designed to bring to life the views of the United States held in two strategically important regions by senior international elites across multiple sectors and thus who have often differing experiences of the United States.

Having identified the regions for the study, six countries in each region were chosen based on their representativeness of the region, the perceived accessibility of their elites to our survey, and their relevance to US foreign policy. Following desk research and consultations with relevant experts, over 400 requests were sent to individuals from each country representing the public sector, the private sector, the media, NGOs, and academia/think tanks.

Instead of drawing a specific definition around age, position or amount of experience, we included citizens of the countries in question who have distinguished careers in their fields, and everyone involved had at least some knowledge and experience of the United States.

While a few essays were submitted in Spanish and Russian, the vast majority were submitted in English. This, of course, means that there was, by definition, somewhat of a self-selection bias as certain aspects in some of our target countries will not be represented. The project is supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, one of the world’s leading international philanthropic organizations, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and medicine, and social welfare.