Shawn Dorius, associate professor of sociology, is co-author of a paper titled, “Developmental Idealism in Internet Search Data,” recently published in the journal Sociology of Development. Dorius’ co-author is Jeffrey Swindle, a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of Michigan.
The researchers collected and analyzed public perceptions of nations in internet search data. They found that people in diverse places consistently associate positive attributes with developed countries and negative characteristics with less-developed countries. They also found a positive correlation between the number of search queries about a country and the country’s position in indices of global development. Results suggest that ordinary people around the world have deeply internalized the developmentalist worldview and that this shapes their perceptions of countries.