A Quantitative Study of American Exceptionalism
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The term American Exceptionalism is used to designate political myths purporting the qualitative distinction of the United States to other nations. I argue that American Exceptionalism should not be viewed as a single political myth but as a metamyth constituted by four logically independent myths of American Exceptionalism. These myths center around the notion that America has a unique spiritual condition; that America is uniquely developed, structured and/or capable; that America has a unique or superior moral quality; and that America ought to behave as a moral example to other nations. I refer to these as American Spiritual Exceptionalism, American Performative Exceptionalism, American Moral Exceptionalism, and American Moral Exemplarism respectively. I also posit that there is a non-mythical belief in the uniqueness or superiority in America’s performance or moral quality. I call this view American Existential Exceptionalism. To determine if there is evidence that these notions of American Exceptionalism are believed in isolation to each other I conducted a correlation test based on a 29-item survey questionnaire meant to gauge belief in these five notions. Further, I hypothesized that a four-factor model is a better fit for the notion of American Exceptionalism than a single-factor model. To test this, I conducted two Confirmatory Factor Analyses and compared their results. The results suggested that the four-factor model is a better fit than the one-factor model. However, the results also suggested that there is a better model than the four-factor model suggested by this paper.
Ward, Jennifer Rachelle (2019). A Quantitative Study of American Exceptionalism. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from