Biography and History

Leo Paul Crespi was a leading public opinion researcher best known for his studies of U.S. prestige abroad. During his early career, Crespie wrote his Ph.D thesis at Princeton on gambling and addiction, describing what is now known as the Crespi Effect. Crespi graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1937 and received a doctorate in comparative psychology from Princeton University in 1942. He taught at Princeton for eight years following his graduation. From 1947-1953, Crespi conducted a U.S. government survey of public opinion in post-war Germany, and served as the President of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) from 1955-1956. He joined the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in 1954, and for the following 32 years he directed USIA's program of opinion surveys, focusing especially on Western Europe. A classified report of Crespi's on French and British public opinion of the U.S. received wide attention in 1960 when it was leaked to the New York Times. The report supported statements made by John F. Kennedy about the United States' declining prestige abroad and was subsequently seen as a favorable influence on Kennedy's presidential bid.

Source: From the finding aid for MC235