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relations between countries and the complexity of newspaper editorials

The archival measure of integrative
complexity, developed by Suedfeld and Rank (1976), is one of several procedures
for the systematic study of documentary evidence to infer various
characteristics of the interactions between countries (e.g., Axelrod, 1976;
Ertel, 1972; George, 1969; Hermann, 1980; Mehrabian, 1967; Winter, 1987).
Integrative complexity is defined as the joint operation of two components of
information processing: differentiation (the perception of 'The University of
British Columbia. 601 0162-895X/92/1200-0601$06.50/1 ? 1992 International
Society of Political Psychology

Suedfeld several dimensions in a stimulus
situation or of several perspectives on the situation) and integration (the
recognition of relations among differentiated dimensions or perspectives, e.g.,
as interacting, as capable of being integrated, or as being relevant to some
overarching event or idea). Evidence of differentiation and integration in verbal
(written or oral) statements can be reliably assessed by trained scorers (see
Method). A large number of studies have shown level of complexity to vary with
environmental and personal stress, political ideology, and social role, inter
alia (Suedfeld, Tetlock, & Streufert, 1992). Most of these studies have
used governmental documents or the pronouncements of officials as the data
sources. Level of complexity is important because it indicates differences in
decision-making strategies: for example, sever- al studies have confirmed the
association between reduced complexity of governmental communications during
international crises and imminent war (Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1977; Suedfeld,
Tetlock, & Ramirez, 1977; Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988). Periods of
international crisis are associated with reductions in complexity not only in
official documents but also in such diverse materials as personal letters,
editorials in a scientific journal, and presidential addresses to the American
Psychological Association (Porter & Suedfeld, 1981; Suedfeld, 1981, 1985).
These data may indicate a general state of rising tension within a society,
which in turn may affect information processing and decision-making at both the
private and public levels: for example, it may influence readiness for or
against negotiated compromise as the solution to problems. The overwhelming
majority of archival materials used in such studies have consisted of
governmental communications, memoranda, policy papers, and the like, and the
private or professional correspondence and speeches of various societal elites.
Relatively little attention has been paid to the mass media, except as they
reproduce the other kinds of materials. Systematic content analysis of media
content has been used to study various aspects of national and international
politics-e.g., to identify publications that served as disguised propaganda
outlets for Nazi Germany, to monitor sequential changes in Comintern policy
toward and away from cooperation with noncommunist countries and groups
(Lasswell, Leites, & associates, 1949). Structural-i.e.,
complexity-analysis may also provide interesting data. The current study
focuses on the association between international relations and the complexity
of editorials in periodicals of broad readership and impact. Further, it looks
at the concomitants of events that are more "normal" than
international crises: that is, events that affect relations between pairs of
countries positively or negatively but for the most part without carrying major
risks such as war. Both communist bloc and Western publications were included
to assess possible differences between the two types of system in this respect.
Three major questions are addressed: 602

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