French-American Foundation/Harris Interactive Study Taps U.S. and French Opinion, Reveals Resurgence of Goodwill Between Two Countries

French less concerned than Americans over threats; Both consider immigration problematic

Oct 27, 2010, 00:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- International relations between France and the U.S. have thawed, says a national survey released today. The poll, which sampled the opinions of 1,010 Americans (aged 18 and over) and 1,016 French (aged 18 and over), was commissioned by the French-American Foundation and conducted by telephone by Harris Interactive.  Many of the questions included were repeated from earlier studies, previously conducted in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2007.  This new research serves to evaluate feelings between the two nations, as well as explore current issues and perceived threats facing each country.

(Logo: )

(Logo: )

Overall, the findings suggest that the attitudes of adults in both France and the United States regarding each other have improved in recent years.  Despite warmer feelings toward one another, the data also indicate that adults in both countries may worry about similar issues and perceived threats to their nation, albeit possibly for different reasons and at different levels of importance.  

"A new administration in the White House and signs of economic recovery have coincided to help usher in improved French-American relations," said Antoine Treuille, President of the French-American Foundation. "All things considered, the numbers bode well for French-U.S. relations, and we're heartened to see that both countries increasingly see eye-to-eye on important global issues."

International relations have thawed and French and Americans are on better terms.

According the Foundation's study in 2005, back when "freedom fries" were still being served, only one-third of French adults (31%) said they generally liked the U.S.  This year, that number has shot up considerably, as two-thirds of French people (65%) now say they generally like the U.S.  As for the U.S., Americans are more likely now than they were in 2005 to say they like France (48% say so now, compared to 35% in 2005). In fact, an increased number of people in both countries also now say, given the opportunity, they would like to live, work and/or study in the other country.  

In 2005, just two in five French (39%) and Americans (44%) said they considered the two countries to be "somewhat partners." This year, that number has jumped to seven in ten in both countries (71% and 70%, respectively), proof relations have improved.  While half of Americans say France is a "sometimes unloyal ally", the study revealed this is an indication of improving relations as well, as there are notable increases in the number of both French and Americans who say the other country is a loyal ally this year, compared to previous years.

The French are less likely to be as concerned as Americans are over a variety of threats.

When faced with a list of possible threats to both countries, including terrorism, disease and economic downturn, Americans are more likely than the French to qualify each threat as extremely important. In fact, one-quarter of French (25%) say the global spread of disease is not an important threat (compared to just 14% of Americans who say the same).  The French also say that a terrorist attack in their country using weapons of mass destruction is not an important threat (25%), compared to less than one in ten Americans (7%) who say the same.

Immigration is more of a problem than opportunity, and assimilation issues might by why.

More Americans (50%) than French (24%) think immigrants have been integrated well, suggesting that assimilation might be at the root of French discontent with immigration.  Just over half (56%) of both French and Americans describe immigration as a problem in their country, with a third of Americans calling it a "large" problem (32%), compared to 16% of French adults.  It's therefore not surprising that lower numbers of adults in both France (38%) and the U.S. (40%) think immigration provides any opportunity for their country.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Large majorities of Americans say France is a world leader in various artistic and cultural pursuits (between 68% and 85%); less say so about technology and scientific pursuits (between 12% and 34%);
  • Most Americans say France is between the 6th and 10th economic power in the world (55%)


This Harris Interactive study was conducted by telephone within the United States between September 22 and 26, 2010 among 1,010 adults (aged 18 and over) and in France between September 22 and 23, 2010 among 1,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

About The French-American Foundation

The French-American Foundation is the principal non-governmental link between France and the United States at leadership levels and across the full range of the French-American relationship.

Contact: Margaret Sullivan, 212-833-0205,

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

Press Contact:

Corporate Communications

Harris Interactive, Inc.


SOURCE Harris Interactive