Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Andrew Wedeman

Second Advisor

Toby Bolsen

Third Advisor

Charles Hankla


This dissertation attempts to study how exposure to foreign cultures affects one’s opinion of foreign countries. According to the parasocial contact theory, indirect mediated contact with an outgroup member on screen, similar to direct face-to-face contact, can reduce ingroup bias and outgroup prejudice. However, the parasocial contact effect is conditioned by the media content and producer. I argue that the consumption of foreign-made cultural products, such as TV programs and movies, is a better alternative and categorize it into two types. First, group-specific exposure to a foreign culture is associated with decategorization that strengthens knowledge, affinity, empathy, and identification with the contacted outgroup media character and deemphasizes group-based categorical differences. Second, generalized exposure to diverse foreign cultures contributes to recategorization through which a more inclusive, shared superordinate identity is constructed beyond subgroup boundaries and ingroup members become more cosmopolitan. Both approaches are hypothesized to lead to more favorable attitudes toward foreign countries. Drawing upon the AsiaBarometer Survey and East Asian Social Survey, the overall statistical analyses lend empirical support to the positive effects of group-specific and generalized cultural exposure. Using cable TV ownership as an instrument, the instrumental variable and corresponding sensitivity analyses further add to the robustness of the above findings.


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