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International Knowledge and Domestic Evaluations in a Changing Society: The Case of China


Do knowledge and information about foreign countries affect people’s evaluation of domestic situations? Using unique survey and experimental data, this research finds that Chinese citizens with more positive perceptions and especially overestimation of foreign socioeconomic conditions have more negative evaluations of China and the Chinese government. Moreover, correcting socioeconomic misinformation about foreign countries improves one’s evaluations of China, indicating that the causal direction is at least partly from rosier estimation of foreign conditions to lower domestic evaluations. The relationship between domestic evaluations and international political knowledge, as measured by familiarity with political affairs and figures in foreign countries, is typically not significant, although awareness of political instability in other countries can increase satisfaction with one’s own country. These results contribute both substantively and conceptually to the study of politically relevant knowledge and information, and shed new light on the nuances of information flow and opinion formation in changing societies.

Corresponding author
Haifeng Huang is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Merced (
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