First Advisor

Milton Bennett

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Ronald Reagan -- Views on Central America, Oscar Arias Sánchez -- 1941 -- Views on Central America, Communication and culture, Intercultural communication, Content analysis (Communication)



Physical Description

1 online resource (185 p.)


Costa Rica embodies many of the characteristics which the United States would like to foster in Central America and elsewhere. In recent years, however, misunderstandings have often been present in the development of relations between both nations, and leaders. These differences have been particularly visible between Presidents Reagan and Arias when carrying out their foreign policies towards Central America.

Recent developments in warfare, social and political unrest and economic crises in the region added to the emergence of a Central American political leadership--independent of U.S. decision making-have increased international misunderstandings between both political speakers. These misunderstandings are shown by Reagan and Arias' through their public discourses which have revealed deterioration in communication and cooperation between them.

Since Reagan and Arias come from different cultures, their values are different, making it difficult for the two men to communicate effectively. Towards discovering the differences m cultural values underlying arguments between them, this study uses the Toulmin model to provide a critical and interpretative analysis of the exchange of political arguments from both leaders concerning Central America. Data were collected from public discourses by Reagan and Arias. An intercultural communication perspective is then used to assess the effects of the arguments on international understanding.

This research was successful in isolating a number of political arguments concerning Reagan and Arias' respective policies toward Central America, it revealed consistently different underlying cultural values. These differences in cultural values may affect the mutual understanding between the two political leaders, since their discourses did not acknowledge each other's cultural values or patterns of thinking.

At the core of Reagan and Arias' disagreements is the ethnocentric assumption that each is similar to the other. This assumption is not a recommended strategy for intercultural interaction.

Because of the novelty of this type of interdisciplinary interpretative research, the results can not be compared adequately with previous research on values in public discourse.

Further investigation in this area should support the worth of studying political argumentation from the combines approaches of rhetorical analysis and intercultural communication.


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