A Political Leader’s Image in Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: The Impact of Competence, Charisma, Integrity and Gender

Diana Ingenhoff, Susanne Klein


Although country image and its potential spillover effects are central research topics in international public relations and public diplomacy, there is a lack of research regarding the effect that political leaders’ images have on those of their home countries. Previous research does indicate that a political leader might be highly influential in terms of attracting benefits for their country; however, our study tests for the first time how a political leader’s image influences their home country’s image by employing a 2 ´ 3 factorial experimental design. Results confirm the hypothesized spillover effect of a political leader’s image on that of their home country, with the integrity of political leaders showing the greatest impact on country image, followed by the competence and charisma dimensions. We also found that the gender of the political leader plays an important role. Future studies should therefore consider and elaborate on this effect in more depth.


political leader image, spillover effect, country image, public diplomacy

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