Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication associate professor Gang (Kevin) Han says the media has more to do with the perception of Chinese products – and people – than any message the country itself provides.
This comes from a study by researchers in which 120 college students read a story about products made in China. A single original article was rewritten in two versions, one that focused on risks of the product and another that focused on the benefits.
Results were profound. Those reading the article about risks correlated that with a negative perception of both the product and the country which produced the product. In contrast, the article focused on benefits led to a more favorable perception of China. This prompted a series of studies on how stories are framed in correlation with how they affect perception.
As it turns out, the media can inadvertently control how consumers view the massive number of products in the United States stamped with the "Made in China" label. For example, a great deal of focus on the use of lead paint in toys and food contamination has resulted in a less favorable overall opinion of a country that, in the past, has suffered from political and social turmoil but has become an important and reliable trading partner.
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