The Devil Knows Best: Experimental Effects of a Televised Soap Opera on Latino Attitudes Toward Government and Support for the 2010 U.S. Census

Matthew D. Trujillo, Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Can a soap opera influence political attitudes and engagement among U.S. Latinos, particularly those perceiving a threat from immigration legislation? The extended contact hypothesis predicts that ingroup fictional characters can encourage positive affect and attitudes toward real-world groups and issues with which they are associated. We tested the impact of a Telemundo soap opera, Más Sabe El Diablo,which portrayed a Latino character's involvement with the 2010 Census. During the census-collection period and directly following the passage of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 immigration act, we randomly assigned Latino participants in Arizona, Texas, and New Jersey to view (1) pro-census scenes or (2) control scenes featuring the character but not the census. Compared to control viewers, census viewers expressed more positive attitudes and less negative affect toward the U.S. government and more behavioral support for the census (wearing pro-census stickers and taking informational flyers). Affinity for the character was associated with stronger effects. The soap opera did not positively influence Arizona participants who were directly affected by SB 1070.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-132
Number of pages20
JournalAnalyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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