The Construction of Country Images and Stereotypes: From Public Views to Google Searches
This study explores the role of stereotypes in the construction of country images. Using social and psychological assumptions about stereotypes and news values theory, we hypothesize that country images are formed primarily based on stereotypes and that countries in close proximity display more diverse images of each other. Following the newly developed 5-dimensional model, we analyzed survey questions about Switzerland in seven countries and compared the answers with Google searches in the same countries. Survey questions displayed more stereotypes than Google searches did. Stereotypes were indeed found to be predominant when forming country images. Countries in closer proximity displayed more diverse images, but also more stereotypes, about Switzerland than did distant countries.