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Looking Across: A Survey Study of Cross-Border Impression Formation in the Tijuana-San Diego and Seattle-Vancouver Border Corridors

Michael R. Pfau


Much of politics is driven by images people may hold in their minds. This is particularly true for cross-border politics, where cultural, economic, linguistic, and legal perceptions and misconceptions may affect meaningful interaction. These may raise hurdles to integration. A first step to overcome such potential hurdles is to understand the processes by which images are formed across cultural and national borders. This study proposes a simple model of cross-border impression formation and tests it with survey research data collected in the Tijuana-San Diego and Seattle-Vancouver border regions. The results confirm that crossborder impressions are influenced by exposure to foreign and domestic media, pre-existing world views, and personal cross-border experiences. The relative importance of these factors is found to vary across cities, countries and regions. Unlike U.S. citizens which rely primarily on their personal cross-border experiences to judge their neighbors, Mexicans and Canadians are significantly influenced in their view of the U.S. presented by U.S. television. The paper concludes with a discussion of some implications of the findings.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229