Vanessa Cruz Nichols, Ph.D.

Indiana University at Bloomington

Phone: 8477698799

Address: Indiana University, 210 Woodburn Hall

City: Bloomington, Indiana - 47401

Country: United States

About Me:

My research is situated within American Politics, Latina/o Politics, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, Political Behavior, Immigration Policy, Civic Engagement, Public Healt, Health Behaviors and Experimental Methods. My book project focuses on elite political communication strategies and the causal links behind immigration issue activism, particularly while circumventing potential battle fatigue among Latinas/os in the U.S. My collaborative work has Lastly, I am a grateful recipient of several support networks, including the TRiO, DePaul University's Ronald E. McNair Program, the Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation. Due to these important support networks, I am very excited to be part of the scholarly community that generates research for the betterment of the academy and society more broadly.

Research Interests

Immigration & Citizenship

Health Politics and Policy

Political Communication

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Political Psychology

Political Participation

Mobilization, Participation, Engagement

Context, Elite Cues

Threat/Opportunity Appraisals

Emotional Causal Mechanisms

Campaign Racial Cues

Policing, Surveillance, Vigilance

Countries of Interest

United States

My Research:

The common thread between my book project project and my additional research projects involves the extent to which elite messaging strategies and policies can motivate and create a more engaged citizenry and subsequently improve our democratic governance.  More specifically, my book project and additional projects have centered on the impact of policy cues and their effects on the political behavior and civic engagement of Latinas/os. My book project (tentatively entitled), “Latinas/os Rising to the Challenge: Political Responses to Threat and Opportunity Messages,” funded in part by the Ford Foundation, University of Michigan, American Political Science Association, and National Science Foundation, re-assesses the hypothesis that threat is the main mobilizing catalyst that awakens citizens, and particularly the Latina/o “sleeping giant.”  A dominant thread in the extant Latina/o politics literature focuses heavily on reactions to threatening immigration policies as an explanation for peaks in Latina/o political activism and the current immigration social movement. Instead of potentially exacerbating feelings of helplessness while only emphasizing a sense of urgency (or policy threat), combining these messages with more opportunity-based policy alternatives may be an improved strategy to catalyze a group to rise, and not succumb, to the challenge before them.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, my findings for a coupled threat-and-opportunity strategy imply that mobilizers must provide a different set of motivators beyond fear (or anti-immigrant threats) for the Latina/o community.  That is, without an incentive such as a policy opportunity, threatened individuals who only perceive danger or the potential of loss have little, if anything, to gain from their efforts.  Thus, scholars and mobilizers should not continue to rely on an automatic rising up and recoiling of the Latina/o ‘sleeping giant’ solely in response to anti-immigrant rhetoric. As seen with my book project, I am deeply committed to exploring the ways that elite messaging strategies impact the political behaviors of Latinas/os in the U.S.  More specifically, my most recent collaborations focus on the discourse and implementation effects of immigration policy in the domains of political and civic engagement among Latinas/os, including the spillover effects of immigration policing and their effects on Latinas/os' trust in government health agencies and willingness to engage with police, health professionals and school officials. This cautious citizenship is very strategic and dependent on the policy context one is exposed to. These works have been published Public Administration Review and the Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law. In separate papers, we continue to test the spillover effects of one policy domain to another and capture the strategic behavior Latinas/os engage in, choosing to abstain from civic activities and engage in forms of political participation. Finally, additional collaborations have involved employing experimental methods and a focus on the effect of elite racial campaigning strategies on people’s perceptions of a candidate.  By testing the role of white racial cues in campaign ads in this project, we gain a deeper understanding of the types of signals minority candidates use to minimize the perceived outsider threat they pose to various White voters.