When Public Statements Reveal Private Beliefs: Assessing Operational Codes at a Distance

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Abstract

This article uses both public and private documents to measure the operational code of John F. Kennedy in the summer of 1962. Previous operational code research (and indeed, much of content analysis more generally) has relied exclusively on the analysis of public speeches and is thus open to charges that the speeches represent attempts at deception, persuasion, or impression management. This article tests the validity of using public speech data in operational code analysis by comparing the output to the results one gets by analyzing private statements from the same period. The results strongly indicate that one obtains the same results using either the public or the private data, thus providing tentative confirmation of the validity of using public speeches for assessing the operational codes of leaders.

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