Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jason Popan

Second Advisor

Dr. Rosalva Resendiz

Third Advisor

Dr. Yu-Cheng Lin


Previous research has shown that minorities hold negative attitudes towards members of law enforcement. Contact with law enforcement has been shown as a major predictor of attitudes towards law enforcement among minorities. Research on this subject has primarily focused on Blacks’ attitudes towards police. Hispanics have been the focus of only a small amount of research on police contact and attitudes towards law enforcement. This study examined contact and attitudes towards several law enforcement entities: local police, state troopers, and border patrol agents. The current study took place along the U.S.-Mexico border, an area with a high population of Hispanics, and used several measures to measure contact (quality and quantity), attitudes towards the law enforcement entities, measure acculturation and ethnic identification, and identify if the relationship between contact and attitudes serve as predictors of stress and trust towards law enforcement through the aspect of intergroup anxiety. Overall the study gathered 425 participants, 404 of which were of Hispanic or Latino descent. It was found that contact quality was a strong predictor of attitudes, trust, and intergroup anxiety. Acculturation also successfully predicted attitudes towards law enforcement but did not moderate between contact and attitudes. Ethnic identification was not related to attitudes and did not moderate between contact and attitudes. The results of this study further show the importance of contact quality on predicting attitudes towards law enforcement and was found among a sample of Hispanics. Future research should focus on ways to improve the quality of police-civilian interactions, as well as to further investigate why in a study with a sample of Hispanic participants, identifying strongly as a Hispanic did not predict attitudes since this relationship has been established using a sample of Black participants.


Copyright 2017 Ivan Avila. All Rights Reserved.