Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Political Research Quarterly 68:3 (2015), pp. 537–551; doi: 10.1177/1065912915594253


Copyright © 2015 University of Utah. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


This study assesses the extent to which individual levels of trust in foreigners relate to preferences about regional transnational policies. We use a nationally representative survey from Mexico (2003), an emerging democracy with relatively high levels of nationalism and several multinational trade agreements. We argue that clarifying the target of social trust is essential for understanding the attitudes of citizens of less powerful countries toward the international policy realm. Statistical analysis strongly suggests that in fact trust in foreigners, above generalized trust, is key to understanding such attitudes. Our results indicate that trust in foreigners among Mexican respondents is positively associated with support for open immigration policies, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and political union with the United States.