Feelings in Politics: How American Foreign Policy Can Benefit From Interpersonal Communication

Paden Stanton, University of Maine


Misperception clouds good decision-making in international politics. American foreign policy doesn’t currently allow for ample strategic communication training for the President of the United States to prevent misperception from becoming an issue in international relations. Looking at influential political theorists, it’s easy to discover that they all warn of the detriment that comes with an ineffective communicator in the highest power position in the country.

My research provides an overview of different perceptions formed by the United States and China of each other throughout the Presidency of Donald Trump and his counterpart in Beijing, President Xi Jinping. By analyzing the official press releases of each country about the foreign policy moves of the other, I was able to discover the points of weak policy where relations plummeted and where ‘sunshine politics’ prevailed, allowing for further development in the relationship between the two countries’ leaders.

When the two leaders were sticking to their agreement of having frequent meetings involving dialogue that both countries held in high precedent, perceptions were positive and relations were amicable. The opposite happened when the dialogue was infrequent and American Message-Influence foreign policy prevailed (Corman, 2008) where there was increased unilateral action towards China without dialogue.