Obama in Adjectives: A Hypothetical Finding on Indonesians’ Perceptions towards Obama by Haeril Halim

Hi guys, some of you asked me the result of my research on Indonesians perceptions towards Obama I conducted last week. I made two pages essay responding the results of the research (600 words). However, a two-page essay is too short for this research. Consequently, I arrived only on a hypothetical conclusion because of that limitation. I will write more as the continuation of this paper in the future to get a more sophisticated understanding on Indonesians perception towards Obama.

Hope you guys can enjoy reading it and do please leave your constructive comments as an opportunity for growth in the future. A special thanks goes to all of you guys who contributed in filling out the questionnaire for this research. I cannot say thank you enough for that. I really appreciate it.

Lakewood, February 13th, 2012




Obama in Adjectives: A Hypothetical Finding on Indonesians’ Perceptions towards Obama

Haeril Halim

Perception is influenced by physiological influences, cultural differences, and social roles (Adler and Proctor, 2011, pg. 93-101). However, those three factors are not absolute. Complexity will arise when one tries to define perception in greater precision (Weintraub and Walker, 1966, pg. 1). Some other elements that might influence perception over other people are interest, age, religion, information acquisition tools, and experience.

Having perceptions about ourselves is completely different from having them towards other people. We tend to judge ourselves more charitably than others (Adler and Proctor, 2011 pg. 101). On the other hand, we tend to make perceptions about others quickly and falsely. “Modalities” are any possible linguistic tools in sentences used by a speaker in order to show his/her attitude (Chaer in Halim, 2010 pg. 18). Adjectives carry the same function.  I conducted research to reveal people’s perceptions about Obama. My online respondents of the questionnaire were 24 Indonesians of three categories: Pro Obama (6), Anti-Obama (4) and Neutral (14). They were asked to describe their perceptions about Obama using adjectives, to give reasons for their perceptions and to answer some questions that might implicitly justify their perceptions.

The respondents’ perceptions, a total of 18 adjectives, fall into the following dichotomy: positive (14) and negative (4) adjectives. Respondents supported their given perceptions with reasons both for the negative and positive. I explained the dichotomy clearly in the next few paragraphs to provide a more sophisticated understanding of it.

The first category contains positive perceptions. There were 14 of them, the two most popular being CHARISMATIC and SMART. The other ones were KIND, BRAVE, VISIONARY, WARM, CHARMING, INSPIRING, SHELTERING, CONFIDENT, FRIENDLY, OPTIMISTIC, INTELEGENT and HANDSOME.  Reasons given were Obama (1) could reach mass sympathy in short time, (2) is respected by many people, (3) supports minorities in America, (4) is a good father for his family, (5) fights against Islamophobia and tries to reach global peace in the middle east, (6) wrote several books, (7) is loved by many Indonesians (8) has made neutral and balanced policies, and (9) tries to arm Muslims and other believers.

The second category contains negative perceptions. There were four of them: STUPID, THOUGHTLESS, FAKE and ZIONIST. These adjectives were supported by the following reasons: Obama (1) makes US debts worse (2) wants to make Asia his next “mission”, (3) is pro-abortion, (4) just uses his charisma to get support from other countries, (5) fails to realize his pledge to close Guantanamo (6) says he does not like war but he does not stop the war in Palestine (7) and fails to realize Palestine.as a sovereign state

However, the supporting reasons for both categories of given adjectives (positive and negative), whether they are fact-based or baseless, are not the main concern of this essay. It is visible that some of them are baseless and not well supported. The point I want to emphasize is how our perception on a single topic can vary from person to person. On the other hand, I found some facts from my research that might account for the respondents’ perceptions over Obama: (1) 17 and 7 people like and do not like politics, (2) their age range is 21-23, (3) 23 are Moslems and only 1 is Christian, (4) 21 are willing to study in the US via scholarship from the US government, (5) they get information about Obama from TV, social networking, Obama’s official website, newspapers, and self-research, and (6) 12 people have been to the US and 12 have not.

Finally, even accounting for those six aforementioned facts (Interest, age, religion, willingness to study in the US, tools of getting information, and US experience) and whether they directly support the respondents’ given perceptions or not, it is still a hypothetical finding. I confidently claim that it is a good initial hypothesis that we should do more advanced research on perception in the future.


Adler, R. Proctor R. (2011). Lookingout Lookingin 13th Edition, pages 93-101, 101. United States:    Cengage Advantage Book.

Halim, H. (2010). Language and Politics in Indonesia: A Study of SBY’s Political Speeches, page 18. An Undergraduate Thesis,. Makassar, Indonesia: Hasanuddin University

Weintraub D., Walker, E (1966). Basic Concepts in Psychology Series, page 1. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company


One thought on “Obama in Adjectives: A Hypothetical Finding on Indonesians’ Perceptions towards Obama by Haeril Halim

  1. Interesting survey. Of course you do not have enough participants in your poll to really draw any scientific conclusions. I find it interesting that he appears to be highly regarded for the most part by your under 30 group. I wonder if US students would reply the same?

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