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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Global Views Poll

   
Author Topic: Global Views Poll
Mucus
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Interesting poll conducted by the BBC in December of 2007.
They essentially polled a sample of people in 23 countries as to whether they thought several specific countries were a position of negative or positive influence in the world. The result is a virtual goldmine of fun statistics.

They list some highlights, but I'd like to add a few:

* After at least three years of deterioration, the US rankings have begun to improve (11 improvements vs. 3 deteriorations)
Optimistic democrats can view this as approval of the upcoming choice in President, pessimistic democrats can view this as looking forward to when Bush is gone, optimistic republicans can look at this as success in the surge and in Iraq, pessimistic republicans ... I don't know but someone else can fill in the blank

* Canada is one of only three countries where a majority negative view of the US has grown, the others being Egypt and Lebanon [Wink]

* Iran is viewed the most negatively, followed closely by Israel

* Germany, Japan, and the EU are viewed the most positively in that order

* At least before the Tibetan riots, China was significantly viewed as a more positive influence on the world than the States, especially in Canada (familiarity breeds contempt or 'the grass is greener'?)

* Despite their position as staunch supportees(?) of the US, Israel's view of the States is within the margin of error to their view of China

* Japanese citizens are the most modest when rating their own country, being significantly more negative than the world consensus.

link

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ClaudiaTherese
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That's fascinating. Thanks.

quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
* At least before the Tibetan riots, China was significantly viewed as a more positive influence on the world than the States, especially in Canada (familiarity breeds contempt or 'the grass is greener'?)

I think this may in part represent some of the cultural background and ongoing ties to one's (or one's family's) home country for people who immigrated from China, or from surrounding areas. Canada has an increasingly diverse culture with a lot of immigration, particularly from Asia in the last while. The roots go back deeper, though: the network of train rails built cross-country was famously built by (often underpaid and ill-used) Chinese immigrant labor.

Currently, though, there is an ongoing joke of referring to Vancouver as "Hong Couver." I'm not sure if this is more of wry/welcoming jest or if it reflects an undercurrent of reaction against the immigrating culture. Nonetheless, we have a very large section of the citizenry with close ties of one sort or the other to China.

(Of note, I don't believe that people of a familial Chinese background can't assess things properly -- just that they may well be more familiar with the positive aspects of China and have retained a national identity/affiliation. Where I live in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, there are several areas of town where the business signage is completely illegible to me. It's been actually quite interesting to be in more of a minority position with regards culture here. I've enjoyed the challenge of living my life at least in part under a different lens, and I have a lot of affection for the culture that I would have been unable to before because of pure lack of exposure.)

---

Edited to add: The CBC has some online snippets from the documentary A Tale of Perseverance: Chinese Immigration to Canada:

quote:
They risked their lives to help build Canada's railroad in the 1880s. But as soon as the work was done, Canada just wanted them gone. It was the beginning of a difficult history for Chinese immigrants to Canada. They struggled through the head tax, personal attacks and job discrimination. But the Chinese in Canada persevered. And today, Chinese-Canadians are an integral part of Canada's multicultural society, forging their own cultural identities.

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Tresopax
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quote:
* After at least three years of deterioration, the US rankings have begun to improve (11 improvements vs. 3 deteriorations)
Optimistic democrats can view this as approval of the upcoming choice in President, pessimistic democrats can view this as looking forward to when Bush is gone, optimistic republicans can look at this as success in the surge and in Iraq, pessimistic republicans ... I don't know but someone else can fill in the blank

I'd bet this is due to the fact that we've become more diplomatic in our foreign policy recently, rather than calling countries "evil", etc. (Except, of course, for Iran...)

quote:
* Japanese citizens are the most modest when rating their own country, being significantly more negative than the world consensus.
This isn't accurate... Japan rated almost every country more negatively than the world consensus. So it seems like pessimism about the nations in general rather than modesty.
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Mucus
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CT: The thought had occurred in my mind, especially since I've been reading about Chinese Canadians being split over the Tibet issue yesterday.
The thing is, they (we?) still only constitute 4% of the national population or so, despite areas of great concentration in Vancouver and Toronto.

I wonder if Quebec might actually be a bigger factor, but I do appreciate hearing that you've in Vancouver. I've been wondering where in Canada you've settled and its nice to hear that you like it [Smile]

Trespax: I freely admit that that particular highlight I gleaned from the summary rather than my own examination. You're right of course, which may actually be more interesting.

The Japanese actually do not have a majority positive view of *anyone* including themselves. They must be a bit depressed...

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ClaudiaTherese
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*smacks forehead

Duh! Of course you have Chinese heritage (II-now-RC) and would be a) considering that already and b) in a better postion to assess that consideration. As well as being entirely spot on, mind.

Well, I shall cool my blushes for giving a long-winded explanation and nattering on in this circumstance. (Ooops! [Blushing] ) But great to know, makes sense, and thanks for your, um, tact and delicacy. *wink

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Mucus
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*L* Thats entirely no problem.
In fact, while I was writing my response I wasn't entirely sure if you knew but thought that the exposition would be helpful for anyone else that might be reading.

I do have one question though, I've been trying to look up "(II-now-RC)" ...

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Blayne Bradley
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I think last I checked Vancouver about a 1/3 of them were Chinese ethnically.

In my strategy games when I play as China I make a point of deliberately colonizing there.

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ClaudiaTherese
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"if I now recall correctly"

( [Smile] )

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Mucus
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Ah, well you do.
And on a side note, "II-now-RC" is interestingly unique in Google with only 4 odd results that do not even quite match the string correctly. You may wish to hold onto that for future use [Smile]

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ClaudiaTherese
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Ha! I am often ahead of the curve.

*preens

[Wink]

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Alcon
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Ouch, Israel got really bad ratings (second worse). Course, that's not even gonna give it's fanatical proponents pause...
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pooka
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North Korea really needs to get it's PR machine in gear if Israel is taking second worst.
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Mucus
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2012 Update: http://www.globescan.com/images/images/pressreleases/bbc2012_country_ratings/2012_bbc_country%20rating%20final%20080512.pdf

I think I've posted some of these for the years in between previously, but I couldn't find them easily.

Quick observations for 2012 vs. 2008:

* In the rogue states area, Israel knocked down North Korea and Pakistan down a notch
* Views of the US have actually improved a lot after Obama. Although the poll article doesn't note this since it compares with the 2011, positive views of the US moved up more than 12% from 2008 to 2011 which seems like a pretty big move when looking at the movements of the other countries.
Or to put it into relative terms, the US is now within shooting distance of China and France while it was previously bracketed by North Korea and Russia
* Canada enters the list at #3 with the rather stereotypical distinction of attracting the least negative attention
* Japan moved up a spot, poll article asserts that this is due to a general downward trend in the EU, pulling down Germany

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Jeff C.
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Does Canada still hate America? That's the only statistic I care about, because it's funny.

Poor Canada. They really do get picked on a lot by the US.

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SenojRetep
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Warning: data analysis ahead.

This seemed like an interesting data set, so I went back and collected the last six years of reports (2007-2012).

The first thing I did was eliminate countries that weren't evaluated/evaluators in each report, so I didn't have to deal with missing data problems. I was concerned that year-to-year differences in the evaluator set might be determining trends. Anyway, once you filter this way you're left with evaluations of 11 countries (US, EU, UK, France, Russia, Israel, Iran, India, China, Japan, NK) made by 14 countries (US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Nigeria, India, Australia, Indonesia, China).

The first thing I did was check the aggregate trends; they didn't change much from the full data case. The only strong trend has been improving perceptions of the US since 2007.

Next, I wanted to do some residual analysis. So I subtracted out the mean evaluation of each country for each year, to get residual opinions of each country by each evaluator. Then I aggregated the absolute values of these mean deviations over the six years to determine which countries opinions are most and least predictive of the entire groups. The most predictive was the UK and the least predictive was Germany.

Then, I wondered which countries were most and least 'biased' (in the sense that their average residual was closest to zero). It turns out US opinions are least biased, Germany's opinions have the strongest negative bias (meaning they dislike everyone), and Nigeria's have the strongest positive bias (meaning they like everyone).

You can also calculate how much variation there are in each country's residuals. In this case, Chile is the least variant (they like everyone about the same), while China is the most variant (meaning their opinion varies from the survey average quite strongly, both positively and negatively).

I also calculated the largest residual aberrations, defined in this case as average residuals of greater than two standard deviations. There were six (in rank order from strongest anomaly to weakest): China's unfavorable opinion of Japan, China's favorable opinion of itself, Russia's favorable opinion of itself, Egypt's unfavorable opinion of Israel, Germany's favorable opinion of the EU, and Egypt's favorable opinion of Iran.

There's also fun to be had with finding unreciprocated relationships. Russia really likes France, but France doesn't like Russia at all. The top four asymmetric relationships (in rank order) were: Russia/France, China/France, China/Russia, UK/India. In each case the first listed country is the adorer, and the second is the spurner.

Six countries were both evaluators and evaluatees, so I thought it would be interesting to see how well each of these countries' self-perception matched that of the group. As above, China and Russia's self-perceptions significantly deviated from the group opinion, as did the US, India and France, to a lesser extent. The UK was remarkably good at matching their self-perception to the global-perception.

Finally, I wanted to see what correlations there were among the residuals of evaluators. So I took the inner product of the residuals for all 66 evaluations for each of the evaluators, forming a 14x14 'distance' matrix. Then I did principle component analysis and spectral clustering on the resultant matrix. This should say which evaluators' residuals are most coherent w.r.t. each other.

The strongest eigen-dimension clustered the residual opinions of US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Australia against those of China, India, Egypt, Russia and Mexico, with Chile, Nigeria, and Indonesia leaning slightly toward the latter group.

The second strongest eigen-dimension clustered India, US, Mexico and Russia against Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, China, and (to a lesser extent) Australia, Chile and France, with Canada, UK and Nigeria in between.

If you project each year's residuals into the two-dimensional space spanned by the dominant eigenvectors, you get essentially three distinct opinion residual clusters. These represent groups of countries whose evaluation residuals correlate according to the evaluator clusters determined above. In one cluster you have NK, Russia, Iran and China. In another you have Israel, India, and 2007-2009 US. In the last you have EU, UK, France, Japan and 2010-2012 US. Here's the plot.

<edit>To give a bit more context to the plot, you can loosely associate the EV dimensions with exemplar countries. So the SW quadrant roughly correlates to the US, the SE to Germany and France, the NE to China and Egypt and NW to Mexico and Russia. So a country in the SW quadrant (like Israel) can be roughly understood to have an anomalously strong (relative to the overall population) rating by the US.</edit>

[ May 17, 2012, 08:47 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Mucus
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Data analysis needs no warnings [Smile]
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Dan_Frank
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Yeah, that was interesting!
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SenojRetep
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I should also note on the plot that the color shading represents the year, with the darker colors being earlier years. Thus residual opinions about US in 2007 (dark blue) were strongly determined by the SW quadrant (largely reflecting the fact that the US's self-perception was very different from world opinion in that year), and it has generally moved such that the US in 2012 (lighter blue) is on the boundary between the SW and SE quadrants (meaning residual opinions about it don't correlate much with the second eigen-dimension, but correlate strongly with the 'Developed Nations' cluster in the primary eigen-dimension).
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aspectre
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One should not forget that a HUGE media campaign has been funded by BigOil, BigCoal, BigLumber, BigBanks (including other US&Canadian financial market players), and most recently BigDirtyOil* of Alberta^ to drive extremist American rightwing political values into Canadian minds.
So Canadians with a tendency toward conservative viewpoints have been propagandized to dislike "America the Liberal"... while Canadians with a tendency toward liberal viewpoints have been repelled by that same propaganda into believing that such rightwing extremism represents THE American value system, and thus Americans.

* Per unit of energy produced in terms of efficiency of utilization, the environmental impact of turning tar-sands into oil-for-fuel in Canada is worse than that of mining&burning coal in the US.
^ Proudly held forth as cowboy redneck country before BigDirtyOil; now known more as the northernmost section of the contiguous AmericanBibleBelt.

[ May 18, 2012, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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SenojRetep
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Canada's anomaly w.r.t. the US, after removing annual averages across evaluators and average assessor bias, is about -4.7 points. That's not nothing, but it's pretty insignificant relative to the biases of other countries, and well within the first standard deviation for overall residual biases.

The two most biased assessors of the US are Russia (-39.0) and the US itself (36.8). The strongest bias in the data as a whole (as I said above) is in China's assessment of Japan (-69.5) followed by China's assessment of itself (59.4).

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Jake
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Interesting stuff, Senoj; thanks for sharing it.
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aspectre
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Same from me, SenojRetep.
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