Sergio Wals Portrait
Associate Professor Political Science

Dr. Sergio Wals' research interests are in the area of political behavior, including public opinion and political psychology. Given his training and background, he approaches the study of political behavior broadly, and pursues projects that can enlighten our understanding of this subfield of political science from both the American and the Comparative perspectives. Within the subfield of political behavior, he focuses on the relationship between democratization and individual perceptions of politics as well as on topics related to immigration, race and ethnicity both in the United States and in Latin America. By incorporating elements from all of his major areas of interest, he has offered an innovative approach both conceptually and methodologically to the study of Latino immigrants’ political engagement in the United States. Within this line of work, his research contributes to the vast literatures on political attitudes toward democratic institutions, political socialization, political participation, partisanship, ideology, and heuristics.

Research Areas

  • Political Behavior
  • Public Opinion
  • Political Psychology
  • Immigration, Race and Ethnicity (Latino Politics)
  • Democratization in Latin America (Mexican Politics)


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • “Love Thy Neighbor? Trust in Foreigners and Support for Transnational Policies” Political Research Quarterly 68(3): 537-551. 2015. With Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Frank Gonzalez, and Tess Gosda.
  • “Perceived Human Rights and Support for New Democracies: Lessons from Mexico.” Democratization 22(7): 1230-1249. 2015. With Courtney Hillebrecht and Dona-Gene Mitchell.
  • “Uplifting Manhood to Wonderful Heights? News Coverage of the Human Costs of Military Conflict from World War One to Gulf War Two.” Political Communication 31(2): 193-217. 2014. With Scott L. Althaus, Nathaniel Swigger, Svitlana Chernykh, David Hendry and Christopher Tiwald.
  • “Personality, Political Behavior, and Political Views about Mexico’s 2012 Presidential Election.” Debates 8(1): 13-29. 2014. With Alejandro Moreno.
  • “Made in the USA? Immigrants’ Imported Ideology and Political Engagement.” Electoral Studies 32(4): 756-767. 2013.
  • “Openness, Extraversion, and the Intention to Emigrate.” Journal of Research in Personality 47(4): 351-355. 2013. With Damarys Canache, Matthew Hayes, and Jeffery J. Mondak.
  • “Assumed Transmission in Political Science: A Call for Bringing Description Back In.” The Journal of Politics 73(4): 1065-1080. 2011. With Scott L. Althaus, Nathaniel Swigger, Svitlana Chernykh, David Hendry and Christopher Tiwald.
  • “Does What Happens In Los Mochis Stay In Los Mochis? Explaining Postmigration Political Behavior.” Political Research Quarterly 64(3): 600-611. 2011.
  • “Comportamiento Político y Migración.” In Meixueiro, Gustavo, and Alejandro Moreno (eds.), El Comportamiento Electoral Mexicano en las Elecciones de 2012, pp. 281-316. Mexico City, MX: Centro de Estudios Sociales y de Opinión Pública (CESOP)/Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). 2014.

Grants, Awards, and Recognitions


  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2015-2016, College of Arts and Sciences, CAS Enhance Grant, “Foundations and Dynamics of Public Opinion in Mexico”
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2012-2013, Layman Seed Grant Award, “Made in the USA? Mexican Immigrants’ Imported Political Suitcases”
  • Political Communication division's Paul Lazarsfeld Award for best paper presented at the 2008 American Political Science Association meeting for “Manhood Uplifted to Wonderful Heights: Newspaper Framing of Combat and Casualties from World War One to Gulf War Two.”
  • University of Illinois, 2008, Survey Research Laboratory, Robert Ferber Dissertation Award
  • American Political Science Association, 2008, Latino Fund Travel Award


  • Recipient, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2014.
  • Recipient, Inspiration Award (Nominated by UNL Undergraduate Students), Latino American Commission of the State of Nebraska, 2012.
  • Recipient, Certificate of Recognition for Contribution to Students, UNL Parents Association and UNL Teaching Council, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2011-12 and 2015-16.
  • Recipient, Academy of National Hispanic Scholars Faculty Impact Award, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2010-11.


  • Political Research Quarterly Outstanding Reviewer Award, 2010

Current Research

  • “A Neglected Nexus: Human Rights and Public Perceptions.” With Dona-Gene Barton and Courtney Hillebrecht.
  • “Lost in Acculturation? Immigrants’ Imported Socialization and Political Trust in the United States.”With Thomas J. Rudolph.
  • “The Political Impact of Shared Ethnicity on Social Networks in the U.S.: Empirical Evidence from South Bend, 1984.” With Benjamin R. Kantack and Jeffery H. Mondak.
  • “Mexico under Siege: The Effects of Violence on Perceptions of Democracy and Human Rights.” With Dona-Gene Barton and Courtney Hillebrecht.
  • “A Tale of Two Countries: Mexican Immigrants’ Perceptions of Politics in the United States.”
  • “From the Other Side of the Border: Perceptions of American Politics in Mexico." With Kianna Moore.
  • “Assessing the Validity and Reliability of Self-Reported Items on Likelihood of Migration.” With Alejandro Moreno.
  • Con la vara que midas… National Identity and Attitudes toward Immigration and Emigration in Mexico.” With Elizabeth Theiss-Morse
  • “¿Sufragio Efectivo, Sin Reelección? Public Support for Legislative Reelection in an Emerging Democracy.” With Alejandro Moreno, Benjamin R. Kantack, and Amanda Karimi.

Career Highlights

  • Became General Secretary of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), 2015
  • Started serving in UNL College of Arts and Sciences Research Advisory Committee, 2014
  • Keynote Speaker during the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration organized by the Nebraska Latino American Commission, October 2013
  • Joined UNL Faculty, 2009
  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009


UNL Today article: For Wals, immigration a personal, professional topic