Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The developmental implications of image theory in inciting a population to war: A content analysis of Bush administration discourse leading to the Iraq War
by Harrison, Christopher T., Ph.D., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2009, 300; 3354726
Abstract (Summary)

Leaders of national governments often create and promote a certain image of another nation's government to elicit public support for policy positions toward that nation. Image theory investigates how these images emerge by studying similarities and differences in the two governments' positions on goal compatibility, relative power, and relative cultural status. Historically, image theorists have not taken adult-developmental status into account when investigating the images that a nation's leaders create, a gap this investigation sought to address. This study used content analysis to determine both the image the Bush administration created of Iraq to get the American public to support the Iraq War as well as the active developmental level the officials invoked when creating the image. A total of 188 publicly delivered statements from George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice were analyzed from the start of the administration's public campaign for war in September 2002 to the day before the war began in March 2003. The analysis revealed that the administration created the Dependent/Colonial image of Iraq and spoke from the Conformist Consciousness stage of development when creating the image in a highly disciplined, organized campaign to push an invasion agenda, despite superficial rhetoric to the contrary. The administration relied on the transpersonal identification of nationalism to gather support for the war plan, and used integration propaganda to spread a consistent message about why war with Iraq was the best method to reconcile differences. The implication of determining the developmental level from which the image was created is significant because it allows for further exploration into the role developmental psychology plays in the emergence and resolution of international conflict. Advanced adult-developmental stages may be less likely to create images that vilify outside groups and less likely to promote the organized violence of war.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wade, Jenny
Commitee: Pilisuk, Marc, Schwebel, Milton
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Residential Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social psychology, Political science, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Conflict resolution, Content analysis, Image theory, Iraq War, Peace studies
Publication Number: 3354726
ISBN: 9781109119596
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