The Corrosive Effect of Acculturation: How Mexican Americans Lose Political Trust


  • *Direct correspondence to Melissa R. Michelson, Department of Political Science, California State University, Fresno, 5340 N. Campus Drive, M/S SS19, Fresno, CA 93740-8019 〈〉. The author will share all data and coding information with those wishing to duplicate the study.


Objective. Existing research establishes that political trust is not only an important determinant of individual political behavior and government effectiveness, but may also measure the health of civic society. This article looks specifically at trust among Latinos of Mexican descent, demonstrating that acculturation is corrosive of political trust.

Methods. Logit and ordered logit models are used to simultaneously test two theories of acculturation—classic assimilation theory and ethnic competition theory. Data come from the Latino National Political Survey (LNPS).

Results. Support is found for both modes of acculturation.

Conclusions. Although the results do not conclusively side with one particular mode of acculturation, they consistently show that acculturation is corrosive of political trust. Latinos of Mexican descent become more cynical about American government as they incorporate into or are exposed to mainstream American culture, and as they become more aware of or concerned about racism and discrimination.