Foreign and security policy attitudes in the USA and Germany

A comparison of structures, dynamics and determinants on the mass and elite level

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Harald Schoen; Prof. Dr. Hans Rattinger (University of Mannheim)

Research Staff: Matthias Mader, M.A.; Dipl.-Pol. Jana Pötzschke (University of Mannheim)

Runtime: 36 Months (April 2010 - March 2013)

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Additional Information (in German):Interview der Uni-Bamberg News mit Harald Schoen und Matthias Mader;IDW-Pressemitteilung "Ja zur Bundeswehrreform"

Research Goals

The project aims at comparing foreign and security policy attitudes of elites and the mass public in Germany and the United States of America since the end of the cold war in 1989/90. To this end, survey data of substantial interest are acquired and analyzed. As a first in comparative attitudinal research, a cognitive and psychological perspective provides the theoretical background of the analysis. The objects of analysis range from structures and dynamics to determinants of attitudes. Furthermore, special attention is paid to the interdependence of elite opinion and mass attitudes.

Various questions from the disciplines of attitudinal research and foreign policy analysis are answered, shedding light on how elite and mass attitudes have changed in the US as well as in Germany in a changing international system. As for attitudinal research, a particular research question in this vein is: Have elites and the public in both countries grown apart from each other since the end of the cold war, or is it rather a growing apart of nations from each other? Foreign policy analysis will gain from the clarification of the relationship between public opinion and elite preferences in helping understand the decision-making process in both countries.


  • Schoen, Harald: Two indicators, one conclusion: on the public salience of foreign affairs in Germany before and after reunification, in: Oppermann, Kai/Viehrig, Henrike (Hrsg.), Issue Salience in International Politics, London/New York: Routledge, 2011, 23-38.
  • Schoen, Harald: Ein Bericht von der Heimatfront: Bürger, Politiker und der Afganistaneinsatz der Bundeswehr, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift 51, 2010, 395-408. pdf Manuscript.pdf Online annex.(14.3 KB)


  • Mader, Matthias: One Hierarchy to Rule Them All? Structures in Belief Systems on Foreign and Security Policy in the German Public. Paper presented at the 6th European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, 26-28 August 2011 (with Jana Pötzschke).
  • Pötzschke, Jana: Personality, Values and Attitudes toward Foreign and Security Policies. Presented at the APSA Annual Meeting 2011, Seattle (with Hans Rattinger and Harald Schoen).
  • Schoen, Harald: Personality, Personal Values, Attitudes toward Foreign and Domestic Policies. Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in Montreal, März 2011.
  • Schoen, Harald: Values and Foreign Policy Attitudes: Reviewing a Subfield of Public Opinion. Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in Montreal, März 2011 (with Peter Liberman).
  • Schoen, Harald: Values in Research on Foreign and Domestic Policy Attitudes, Workshop "Integrating Research on Domestic & Foreign Policy Opinions", Annual Convetion of the International Studies Association in New Orleans, February 2010 (with Peter Liberman).
  • Schoen, Harald: Basic values and attitudes toward foreign and domestic policies in Germany. Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Toronto, September 2009.