The results of this study suggest a few conclusions. First, and most predominantly, people internalize stereotypes from the media that they have read. The survey’s characterization responses shows very clearly that people have internalized views that they have read. The words that were the most commonly mentioned in the survey, such as “unstable”, “unpredictable”, and “dictator” were also some of the most commonly repeated in Binnarae Oh’s corpus study of US newspapers over the past several years. As shown in the literature review, the Kirwan Institute explains that the news media is one of the most significant causes of implicit biases. However, this carries a limitation in that I did not have a way to measure the causation through my methodology, so this is only a correlational result.
The second conclusion is that people can change their views due to new information being read and breaking the cycle of “echo chambers.” Although previous media research, such as Anand’s article in the Harvard Business Review, has shown that the advertising reliant model causes sensational media to be amplified, this study proves that this cycle can be broken when people are given information that argues a different train of thought from what they had previously believed. The results that were collected show that at least ⅓ of the survey respondents had their views changed. Although not officially collected data, several respondents after the survey was administered and responded to, reached out personally and said reading the article sparked their interest in how the media shaped their views, and they were going to read a wider variety of news from then on. They mentioned that even though they were reluctant to change their views based off one article, it sparked their interest to read a greater variety of articles. Furthermore, the people who had no change in their views also advocated a primarily cautious foreign policy, which is at odds to the way the majority of media characterizes the issue and relations.
This is crucial because, as Stephen Walt writes, “Instead of seeing foreign-policy disputes as the product of straightforward conflicts of interest or clashing political values, even well- experienced U.S. officials and knowledgeable pundits are prone to seeing them as a reflection of personality defects, paranoia, or distorted views of reality.” Essentially, he explains that these articles sensationalize the issue by deeming North Korea as unstable, and Kim Jong- Un as extremely crazy, and this in turn impacts the way that officials craft policy. This may be potentially harmful, as this could create policy that is significantly more confrontational than when officials believe Kim Jong-Un is able to have rational communications with.
Due to this, there are several steps that could be taken in the future to expand upon these ideas. Most significantly, the advertising reliant model could be used to show people articles that do not correspond with their views, thus heavily detracting from the influence of echo chambers. For example, most people are shown advertisements similar to stores that they have been online shopping on, and are shown articles similar to the ones that they have read. If this is reversed, they may be confronted with information that is contrary to their own views. This causes them to create a more well thought out opinion of policy, which in turn, will allow them to influence their officials. As this is a foreign policy interest, crucial to the security of the nation, and not impeding the right to free speech or freedom of the press, it could theoretically be implemented as a bill or an act. However, a major limitation is that media companies control large shares of the market, and thus have the influence to lobby to render this solution impractical. Increased dissemination of this survey would also help in combating the primarily unilateral view of the media and the way they respond to North Korean foreign policy.
To expand on this study, there are also a number of significant future steps. A future study could either focus in, either solely on the Bay Area or on California, or expand and be further disseminated. Ideally, this would be disseminated to actually reflect demographics of the country as a whole to generate more significant data. A significant limitation of my study was that the respondents were primarily of a high socioeconomic class and of a higher level of education, and most of them were college graduates or high school graduates that were going to college, which does not reflect the overall demographics of the country. Furthermore, this survey style could be replicated for measuring stereotypes of other countries. It would be interesting to look at conclusions based off other countries that are in adversarial relations with the United States, such as Russia, but which do not have the same “Orientalizing” characteristics used to describe North Korea. This study could also be expanded to include different newspaper articles, and see whether the results are still held as compared to this article.