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The effect of interparliamentary meetings on the foreign policy attitudes of United States Congressmen

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2009

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The major hypothesis of this article is that attendance at interparliamentary group meetings by members of Congress between 1949 and 1970 modified their attitudes toward foreign policy. Interviews with a sample of congressional delegates, analysis of roll call data, and documentary records were used to test this hypothesis. Changes after attendance at an initial meeting were small. However, when party, ideology, and degree of previous isolationism or internationalism were controlled the changes were much more significant. Predictions formulated on the basis of cognitive dissonance theory were remarkably accurate, thus suggesting that cognitive consistency explanations may help to account for the behavior observed.

Copyright © The IO Foundation 1977

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1 See for example Angell, Robert C., Peace on the March: Transnational Participation (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1969)Google Scholar; Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S. Jr, eds., Transnational Relations and World Politics (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S. Jr, “Transgovernmental Relations and International Organizations,” World Politics Vol. 28, No. 1 (10 1974): 3962CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Aron, Raymond, A Theory of International Relations (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1966)Google Scholar.

2 Nye, Keohane and, “Transgovernmental Relations and International Organizations,” p. 43Google Scholar.

3 Bauer, Raymond A., Ithiel, de Sola Pool, and Dexter, Lewis Anthony, American Business and Public Policy: The Politics of Foreign Trade (New York: Atherton Press, 1963)Google Scholar.

4 Ithiel, de Sola Pool, “Effects of Cross-National Contact on National and International Images,” in Kelman, Herbert C., ed., International Behavior (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), pp. 106–29Google Scholar.

5 Members of Congress have also attended the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings as observers, Anglo-American meetings, and occasional bilateral meetings with other parliamentarians. Such activities have not been institutionalized. The most extensive records of the groups' formal activities can be found in the reports submitted by individual delegations to the Senate and the House.

6 Kcohane, and Nye, , “Transgovernmental Relations and International Organizations,” p. 48Google Scholar.

7 For information on the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) see Sterzel, Frederik, The Interparliamentary Union (Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt et Soner, 1968)Google Scholar. On early United States participation, see US Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Staff Memorandum on the Interparliamentary Union (Washington: GPO, 1955)Google Scholar; Slayden, Ellen Maury in Washington Wife: Journal of Ellen Maury Slayden from 1897 to 1919 (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), comments on the social side of the IPU in the early years of this centuryGoogle Scholar.

8 See the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentarians Conference 1955–1959 (London: The Hansard Society, n.d.)Google Scholar, and Hovey, J. Allan Jr, The Superparliaments (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966)Google Scholar.

9 Congressional Quarterly provides aid and comfort to the opponents of congressional travel such as columnist Jack Anderson in its annual compilation of foreign travel. The symbolic categorization of travel as “junkets” accomplishes the same end. While some foreign travel expense is hidden in the appropriations for the Departments of Defense and State, most must be approved by the respective houses and reports filed. Domestic travel funds are not, however, publicly reported. In fact, a staff member of the House Administration Committee told us that the policy was to discourage non-congressional examination of such expenditures. Reaction to criticism was behind policy changes to further restrict access to travel records.

10 Anderson, Jack, “The Washington Merry-Go-Round,” The Washington Post, 09 13, 1974, p. E47Google Scholar.

11 The procedure followed parallels that used by MacRae, Duncan Jr in Issues and Parties in Legislative Voting: Methods of Statistical Analysis (New York: Harper and Row, 1970)Google Scholar. Tetrachoric r statistics measuring one-way association were subjected to the principal components analysis, rather than Yule's Q, to extract latent cumulative or Guttman scales in the roll calls. Only the first component was used to calculate component scores since only one significant component emerged in each year as judged by the relative sizes of the latent roots. The cumulative model is discussed further in Clausen, Aage, How Congressmen Decide (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1973)Google Scholar, Chapter 2 and in Weisberg, Herbert F., “Dimensional Analysis of Legislative Roll Calls,” unpublished doctoral dissertation, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, 1968Google Scholar. Up to 1970, the unidimensional cumulative model was the underlying response model in both houses. Since 1970, many Senators and Representatives have been acting in accordance with a proximity model.

12 Individual scores were standardized by subtracting the mean for the roll call from the individual's vote, coded 1 for yea and 0 for nay, and then dividing by the standard deviation for the roll call.

13 Tests of hypotheses about means and the difference between two means will use the t statistic as an approximate standard. Since the populations of delegates deviate from normality, and the standard deviations of scores in different subsets of the population are probably not equal, t statistics are not precisely correct. As a rough guide, a value should be at least two times its standard error to be significant at the 0.05 level. See Freund, John E., Mathematical Statistics (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1962)Google Scholar.

Democrats have tended to be more internationalist than Republicans in both houses, and both bodies demonstrate relative stability in scale scores from session to session. The average correlations between principal component scores in adjacent sessions are +0.84 in the House and +0.83 in the Senate, while the values with one session intervening are +0.79 and +0.77 respectively. These are consistent with the comparable values of tau beta correlations between the foreign policy scales for the 85th and 86th Congresses of +0.75 for Democratic Representatives and +0.80 for Republicans. Mean changes in score between adjacent sessions were also trivial as they should have been over each house. If the same members were represented with scores in each session, the mean difference would be identically zero because the means of each session are identical.

14 The Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the Committee on Political Education (COPE) of the AFL-CIO both rate the voting records of members of Congress each year. The two groups use different sets of roll calls to evaluate the extent to which legislators agreed with the organization's preferred votes. We dichtotomized both ratings at 50 percent and classified Congressmen according to which of the four cells they occupied. Congressmen lower than 50 percent on both measures were categorized as “conservatives,” while those higher than 50 percent on both measures were denoted as “liberals.” Most individuals fell into these two cells. The rest fell mainly into the cell lower than 50 percent on the ADA score, but greater than 50 percent on the COPE rating, and were denoted “mixed.” One percent occupied the fourth cell and were included in the liberal category.

15 Festinger, Leon, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957)Google Scholar; Kiesler, Charles A., Collins, Barry E., and Miller, Norman, Attitude Change: A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Approaches (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1969)Google Scholar; and Insko, Chester A., Theories of Attitude Change (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967)Google Scholar.

16 This conclusion comes from the data in the American Representation Study conducted by Warren E. Miller and Donald E. Stokes. The data have been made available through the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research. Neither the original investigators, nor the ICPR are responsible for this interpretation.

17 All quotations which appear without citation are taken from the in-depth interviews with Senate and House delegates to interparliamentary meetings.

18 The Washington Post, December 15, 1974, p. B4.

19 The immigration bill before Senator Ervin's subcommittee would have imposed hemispheric quotas on immigrants to the United States. Specifically, managerial personnel transferred from Canada to the United States by multinational companies could enter, but their families would have had to wait in line. Senators Ervin and Aiken were lobbied by Canadian parliamentarians at a meeting of the Canada-United States group. Thereafter, the provision was altered by Senator Ervin.

20 Ithiel, de Sola Pool, Keller, Suzanne, and Bauer, Raymond A., “The Influence of Foreign Travel on Political Attitudes of American Businessmen,” Public Opinion Quarterly Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 1956)Google Scholar; 161–75;Pool, et. al., found that businessmen also depend upon personal relations for information. See also Dexter, Lewis A., “What do Congressmen Hear: The Mail,” Public Opinion Quarterly Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 1956): 1627CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and “The Representative and His District,” in Peabody, Robert L. and Polsby, Nelson W., eds., New Perspectives on the House of Representatives (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1963), pp. 329Google Scholar.

21 Festinger, N.Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, pp. 177–81Google Scholar.

22 Rieselbach, Leroy N., The Roots of Isolationism (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966)Google Scholar.

23 This information was supplied by Department of State sources.

24 Coleman, James S., Introduction to Mathematical Sociology (New York: The Free Press, 1964), Chapters 4 and 6Google Scholar.

25 Experimental regression is a tendency for individuals with extreme scores at one time to be less extreme at the next, independent of the effect of any causally relevant variables. See Runkel, Philip J. and McGrath, Joseph E., Research on Human Behavior: A Systematic Guide to Method (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972), pp. 3940Google Scholar. Convergence is a tendency for extreme individuals at one time to move toward a mean value after elaboration with a causally relevant variable. The fact that the Democratic average score has become more internationalist supports convergence rather than regression. See Pool, et. al., “The Influence of Foreign Travel,” p. 161.

26 Danelski, David J., A Supreme Court Justice is Appointed (New York: Random House, 1964), Chapter 11Google Scholar.

27 Festinger, Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Chapters 4–5.

28 Kesselma, Markn, “Presidential Leadership in Congress on Foreign Policy,” Midwest Journal of Political Science 5 (1961): 284–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Rieselbach, The Roots of Isolationism, p. 167Google Scholar.

29 Kelman, Herbert C. and Baron, Reuben M., “Determinants of Modes of Resolving Inconsistency Dilemmas: A Functional Analysis,” in Abelson, Robert et al. , eds., Theories of Cognitive Consistency: A Sourcebook (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968)Google Scholar.

30 Schroder, Harold M., Driver, Michael J. and Streufert, Siegfried Streu, Human Information Processing: Individuals and Groups Functioning in Complex Social Situations (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967), Chapters 9 and 10Google Scholar; and Abelson,, eds., Theories of Cognitive Consistency, Chapters 59–63.