Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 37:3 (2015), pp. 420–438; doi: 10.1177/0739986315586564


Copyright © 2015 Nathan Munier, Julia Albarracin, and Keith Boeckelman. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Trust in government is essential to democratic practice. This article analyzed the factors shaping trust in the federal government using a survey of 260 Mexican immigrants living in rural Illinois and in-depth interviews with 32 participants. To analyze these data, we drew a distinction between support for the regime (system of government that is relatively stable in a political system) and support for authorities (those who temporarily occupy positions of power) to test whether regime or authorities’ considerations shaped respondents’ political trust. The results showed that both considerations influenced trust in the federal government. We also found that a perception of current leaders as being concerned with issues affecting Latinos and an increased optimism about the economic situation were key determinants in explaining trust in the federal government. Further, our in-depth interviews showed that respondents thought about economic issues, immigration, and overall assessments of the Obama administration when determining their level of trust in the federal government.