Measuring Implicit British Perceptions of German Intentions in 1938–1939

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Abstract

Implicit British perceptions of German leaders during the period September 30, 1938–September 1, 1939 (from the Munich Agreements to the German invasion of Poland) are studied with a “ratio of threat accentuation” measure. This ratio is calculated by comparing the densities of power motive imagery in two kinds of archival material: full texts of major Hitler speeches versus summaries in The Times of London, and British versus German accounts of meetings between British diplomats and major Nazi leaders. In both cases, the British ratio of threat accentuation increases following the unexpected German occupation of Prague and the rest of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939. These changes in implicit perception are congruent with changes in British explicit perceptions and foreign policy after the German action.

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