Latino Responses to Stereotype Threat (2015-16)

This project addresses a fundamental gap in our understanding of how Latinos perceive, process, report and react to discrimination and stereotyping.

PI: Brad Jones, Political Science

Collaborators: Jeffrey Sherman, Psychology; Dave Vannette, Political Science


Update (November 2017):

Seed funding from ISS enabled Brad Jones and his co-researchers to hire several Spanish-speaking UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students—many of whom were themselves first- or second-generation immigrants—to assist with a survey of Latinx in the US during the first three months of the Trump presidency. These students translated survey questions into Spanish. In all, approximately 3500 Latinx completed the survey, enabling Jones et al to develop several working papers, including one that is currently under review. 

The seed funding also led to other successful grant applications, enabling the team to secure support from the UC Davis Academic Senate, Qualtrics, UC Mexus, and the National Science Foundation. That NSF grant is funding a large-scale representative survey of the dehumanization of immigrants in Mexico. Specifically, this study will explore the extent to which Mexican citizens dehumanize migrants entering Mexico from Central American nations such as Guatemala while also lamenting the treatment of Mexican migrants attempting to enter the US. Other participants in this larger project include Omar García-Ponce  and Jeffrey Sherman of UC Davis and Daniel Zizumbo Colunga of CIDE. Jones credits the early support from ISS with helping to advance this broader undertaking, which relates directly to the work that was initially funded.


While considerable work has been done in the social sciences on the mechanisms that lead non-Latinos to engage in stereotyping and discriminatory practices, far less work has been done on the crucial question of how Latinos themselves perceive and process discriminatory action, rhetoric, and communication. Further, to the extent we understand how Latinos respond to stereotype threat–a concept that is defined and operationalized below–our understanding of this process has been limited in two ways.

First, experimental studies of how Latinos react to stereotype threat has almost exclusively been limited to subjects who are university students with English-language skills. As such, in almost every experimental study, there is no variation in the important attribute of language use and little variation in generational status and/or immigration status. Second, to the extent studies have incorporated variation in Latino group attributes such as language use, generational differences, and immigration status, they have tended to rely on observational data (i.e. non-experimental data). Therefore, the ability to assess the causal effect of stereotype threat and how threat is moderated or mediated by Latino attributes has been limited.

We argue that understanding of how Latinos respond and react to stereotype threat requires careful consideration and measurement of how attributes of Latinos moderate beliefs about stereotypes and responses to potentially discriminatory environments. In the course of this project we will create and pre-test experimental materials in both Spanish and English, assess the critical question of measurement equivalency, and provide replications and extensions of work on stereotype threat and social stigma that explicitly account for variation in group attributes.