The structure of foreign policy attitudes in transatlantic perspective: comparing the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany
European Journal of Political Research
Wiley for European Consortium for Political Research
© 2017 The Authors. European Journal of Political Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Consortium for Political Research. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
While public opinion about foreign policy has been studied extensively in the United States, there is less systematic research of foreign policy opinions in other countries. Given that public opinion about international affairs affects who gets elected in democracies and then constrains the foreign policies available to leaders once elected, both comparative politics and international relations scholarship benefit from more systematic investigation of foreign policy attitudes outside the US. Using new data, we find a common set of core constructs structuring both American and European attitudes about foreign policy. Surveys conducted in four countries (the US, the UK, France, and Germany) provide an expanded set of foreign policy-related survey items that are analyzed using exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM). We specifically test for measurement equivalence and find a common four-factor structure that fits the data in all four countries. Consequently, we make valid, direct comparisons of the foreign policy preferences of four world powers. In the process, our four-factor model confirms and expands previous work on the structure of foreign policy attitudes. We also demonstrate the capability of ESEM in testing the dimensionality and cross-national equivalence of social science concepts.
Data collection was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (RES-061-25-0405). All data supporting this research are available from the UK Data Archive (Study Number 851142): https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-851142/.
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Published online 20 March 2017