Honors Projects


This research investigates the pervasiveness of both political cynicism and American exceptionalism within American society. Throughout history, there has been an interaction between the public's feelings of American exceptionalism and cynicism in the United States, starting at the nation’s founding and continuing into recent times (Chaloupka, 1999). As an inter-disciplinary and mixed-methods study, this research utilizes both a nationally representative quantitative data-set and a qualitative analysis of Allen Ginsberg’s (1959) poem “America,” a cultural representation of the relationship between American exceptionalism and cynicism. Using the American National Election Studies’ 2012 survey on trust in government (N = 5,914), I examine the relationship between distrust in government (a proxy for political cynicism) and feelings of American exceptionalism. Results show a significant relationship between cynicism and feelings of American exceptionalism in the United States, with those who report low trust also reporting greater feelings of American exceptionalism, as compared to those with medium and high trust in government. These associations are stronger for respondents who report high levels of satisfaction with the federal government. The results suggest that feelings of political cynicism and American exceptionalism exist in tandem in American public opinion.


Political Science


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Neal Jesse

First Advisor Department

Political Science

Second Advisor

Dr. Phil Dickinson

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2017