Attitudes on Foreign and Security Policy in the U.S. and Germany: A Comparison at the Mass and Elite Level

Research question/goal: 

This project seeks to compare foreign and security policy orientations of the public and of political elites in the United States and Germany over time since the end of the Cold War. Therefore, all available data from relevant mass and elite surveys are collected and analysed from a cognitive psychology perspective. Developments, structures as well as determinants of foreign and security policy orientations are investigated. We especially focus on the interrelation between public opinion and elite orientations. These analyses will contribute to answer questions of attitudinal research as well as of foreign policy research. They will shed light on how the foreign policy orientations of citizens and elites in the U.S. and Germany have responded to the changes in the international system and foreign affairs since 1989/90. In particular, we can address the controversial issue if, how and in which phases the two countries have drifted apart with regard to foreign and security policy orientations of citizens and elites. Furthermore, the project will clarify the relation between public opinion and elite orientations in both countries and will thus help to better understand the process of foreign policy formation.

Current stage: 

In order to arrive at results about the development of the transatlantic partnership since the end of the Cold War, analyses were carried out that examined a variety of attitudes concerning important events and topics of foreign and security policy. The findings will be included in a book, which is to be published in 2015; work on it is already quite advanced. Furthermore, results from the project were published in international journals and presented at various conferences.

Fact sheet

2010 to 2015
Data Sources: 
Survey data
Geographic Space: 
USA, Germany



Biehl, Heiko, and Harald Schoen (Eds.) (2015): Sicherheitspolitik und Streitkräfte im Urteil der Bürger: Theorien, Methoden, Befunde. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. [Schriftenreihe des Sozialwissenschaftlichen Instituts der Bundeswehr; 15] more