Lucila Figueroa

Department of Political Science

Norms, Latinos, and Political Attitudes in the United States (2014-2015)


My research investigates the factors behind support for or opposition to immigration in the United States. I analyze the impact of norms—standards of conduct dictated by a person’s identity—on political attitudes. In my dissertation, I use survey experiments to capture the negative effect of norm violations on attitudes toward Latinos and immigrants. This project builds on my dissertation by focusing on the pre-existing assumptions respondents make about Latinos’ and immigrants’ propensities to violate norms. I seek to understand whether White respondents believe Latino immigrants violate norms more than do South and East Asian immigrants, European immigrants, and immigrants from the Middle East. Additionally, I seek to show that a negative reaction to norm violations does actually stem from the feeling that the collective cultural American identity is threatened, not from sociotropic financial concerns. Finally, I hope to analyze the reactions of groups beyond White Americans, such as African Americans, to norm violations by Latinos in the U.S.


American Norms and Political Public Opinion (2012-2013)


To what extent do norms structure public opinion toward Latinos in the United States? To what extent do norms structure political public opinion?  To answer these questoins, I focus on two types of norms, norms of propriety (p-norms) and cultural norms (c-norms).  P-norms are aspects that the American public, ideally, would like all citizens to encompass.  For example, we desire a population that is employed, educated, and law-abiding.  These norms are not tied to race or ethnicity; whites are expected to follow p-norms, just as are minorities.  Conversely, c-norms are tied to race, ethnicity, and/or nationality.  Withing a society, it is the dominant group that sets the normative behaviors.  In the U.S., this group is non-Hispanic whites.  White Americans, then, tend to expect Latinos living in the U.S. to “”fit in.””  In other words, to follow salient, American c-norms.  My research question may be rephrased as, if a Latino in the U.S. follows p-norms, will he or she find acceptance by non-Hispanic white Americans?  Or, must a Latino lose Hispanic cultural identity (follow c-norms) in order to gain full acceptance?  I conducted a variety of survey experiments that vary whether p- and c-norms are followed or violated to understand if the treatments affected public opinon toward Latinos and on a wide variety of policies.