International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Security and Humanity along the U.S.-Mexico Border: An Experimental Study of How Border Security Pol

Jose D. Villalobos, University of Texas at El Paso; Cigdem V. Sirin, University of Texas at El Paso

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of Texas at El Paso
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

This paper examines how border security policies influence public perceptions of government officials and migrants.  Recently, there have been an increasing number of incidents along the U.S.-Mexico border that have put migrants and border security personnel in danger.  A few of these incidents have ended tragically and sparked much controversy about the delicate balance between maintaining security and protecting humanity at the border.  For citizens living along the border, government policies leading to border deaths have created negative perceptions about border security personnel, particularly within the Latino community.  In this study, we adopt an experimental approach to explore how certain factors affect public perceptions of actions taken by government officials charged with protecting the border and public safety.  Specifically, we consider in-group/out-group links between U.S. citizens and government officials, as well as between U.S. citizens and immigrants to see how certain scenarios influence public perceptions of key groups.