The Role of Fulbright Program in Building Positive Perception and Ally Image of the U.S. Among Pakistani Scholars
This study was aimed at exploring the role of Fulbright program in building perception about U.S. and Americans among Pakistani Fulbright scholars. While a host of theory and research had been growing on contact theory (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew and Tropp, 2008), application of contact hypothesis to cultural exchange programs based on foreign policy intended to develop peace and affective ties between nations has been limited. This research gap was filled by this study that focused on the impact of direct contact on perception and image of the U.S. in the context of the U.S. and Pakistan Fulbright program. Pakistani Fulbright scholars (81 men, 67 women; Mean age = 23 years; Range 21-29), with low-contact and high-contact were compared with respect to their perceptions of a prototypical American and the U.S. as an international entity. Compared to participants with low-contact (n = 52), participants with high-contact (n = 96) had developed a higher positive perception of a prototypical American. Furthermore, compared to participants with low-contact, those with high-contact perceived the U.S. significantly more as an ally and less as an imperialist-enemy nation. Participation was controlled through selection for the Fulbright program and no previous visits to the U.S. Discussion has focused on possibilities for foreign policy and peace related implications of the Fulbright program.