Max Hugo Gaston


Max is a fifth year litigation attorney and former State prosecutor from the United States. His parents immigrated to the US from Haiti prior to his birth. Max began the MSc focusing on behavioral influence in dispute resolution. In response to US president Donald Trump remarking Haiti was a "shithole" country, his focus shifted to social representations of Haiti. Max is now focussed on changing negative representations of Haiti through nation branding and positive imagery marketing on social media.


Is Haiti a “shithole” country? An investigation into the social representations of Haiti held by Westerners and Haitians using a mixed methods approach.

Supervisor: Sandra Jovchelovitch

Media-analysis research indicates Western media-outlets continuously portray Haiti in a highly exaggerated negative light. No apparent study however tests the impact of these representations on Westerners’ social representations (SRs) of Haiti (Westerners meaning non-Haitian Americans and Europeans). This study fills that gap. Quantitative data was collected from 427 Westerners (N=427) via an online self-administered picture-association test (PAT). Participants were shown 5 “positive” and 3 “negative” pictures and asked to guess from 5 options whether each picture represented Haiti or another Caribbean country. The study assessed how frequently participants associated Haiti with negative imagery. Overall results showed Haiti was least selected for all 5 positive pictures and most for all 3 negative pictures. A chi-square test conducted yielded a p-value of <0.05, providing evidence confirming the hypothesis that among Westerners a relationship exists between negative imagery and SRs of Haiti. The results contribute hard evidence to previous media-analysis findings suggesting but not testing whether Westerner SRs of Haiti mirror sensationalized media representations.

© 2019 by The DisCo Initiative 

  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • Twitter - Grey Circle
  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle