Sergio Wals

Associate Professor Political Science

My research interests are in the area of political behavior, including public opinion and political psychology. Given my training and background, I approach the study of political behavior broadly, and pursue 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, I focus 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 my major areas of interest, I have 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, my research contributes to the vast literatures on political attitudes toward democratic institutions, political socialization, political participation, partisanship, ideology, and heuristics.


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

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

 Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Wals, Sergio C., Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Frank Gonzalez, and Tess Gosda. 2015. “Love Thy Neighbor? Trust in Foreigners and Support for Transnational Policies” Political Research Quarterly 68(3): 537-551.
  • Hillebrecht, Courtney, Dona-Gene Mitchell, and Sergio C. Wals. 2015. “Perceived Human Rights and Support for New Democracies: Lessons from Mexico.” Democratization 22(7): 1230-1249.
  • Althaus, Scott L., Nathaniel Swigger, Svitlana Chernykh, David Hendry, Sergio C. Wals, and Christopher Tiwald. 2014. “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.
  • Moreno, Alejandro, and Sergio C. Wals. 2014. “Personality, Political Behavior, and Political Views about Mexico’s 2012 Presidential Election.” Debates 8(1): 13-29.
  • Wals, Sergio C. 2013. “Made in the USA? Immigrants’ Imported Ideology and Political Engagement.” Electoral Studies 32(4): 756-767.
  • Canache, Damarys, Matthew Hayes, Jeffery J. Mondak, and Sergio C. Wals. 2013. “Openness, Extraversion, and the Intention to Emigrate.” Journal of Research in Personality 47(4): 351-355.
  • Althaus, Scott L., Nathaniel Swigger, Svitlana Chernykh, David Hendry, Sergio C. Wals, and Christopher Tiwald. 2011. “Assumed Transmission in Political Science: A Call for Bringing Description Back In.” The Journal of Politics 73(4): 1065-1080.
  • Wals, Sergio C. 2011. “Does What Happens In Los Mochis Stay In Los Mochis? Explaining Postmigration Political Behavior.” Political Research Quarterly 64(3): 600-611.

 Book Chapter

  •  Wals, Sergio C. 2014. “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).


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