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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Since at least 1964, public opinion scholars have searched for signs of “constraint” in the American public’s foreign policy attitudes. This chapter reviews these attempts and suggests that the ensuing work has ultimately fallen into two research traditions that have largely been conducted in isolation of one another: horizontal models that portray attitudes as being sorted along multiple dimensions on the same plane and vertical models that imply a hierarchical organization in which abstract values determine specific policy positions. It then offers a new—networked—paradigm for political attitudes in foreign affairs, leveraging tools from network analysis to show that both camps make unrealistically strict assumptions about the directionality and uniformity of attitude structure. The chapter shows that specific policy attitudes play more central roles than existing theories give them credit for and that the topology of attitude networks varies substantially with individual characteristics like political sophistication.

Keywords: public opinion, foreign policy, attitude structure, network, value, political knowledge

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