The National Hispanic Media Coalition recently released a report, “The Impact of Media Stereotypes on Opinions and Attitudes towards Latinos,” that looked at perceptions of Latinos in the U.S. A survey about views on Latinos, as well as media representations of them, was administered by phone to a national sample of 900 non-Latinos in March 2012.
The study found that the overwhelming majority of respondents agreed with a number of positive stereotypes of Latinos, such as the idea that they are hardworking and family-oriented:
A range of negative stereotypes were persistent as well. Participants were asked how well a number of negative views described Latinos. Fully half agreed that Latinos can generally be described as welfare recipients and poorly educated, while significant minorities agreed with a number of other negative views:
The researchers created a familiarity index based on personal contact with Latinos, frequency of such interactions, and general cultural awareness. Overall familiarity varied significantly by age, with younger adults reporting higher levels than older adults:
All groups, regardless of level of familiarity, felt generally positively about Latinos. However, when asked about “illegal aliens,” feelings were much more negative. Feelings were based on a scale from 0 (worst possible opinion) to 100 (highest possible opinion). The more familiar a group was with Latinos, the higher their average rating of both “Latinos” and “illegal aliens,” but every group had distinctly more negative opinions when asked about illegal aliens:
Which news source a person favored affected their perceptions of Latinos, with those who listed FOX News and conservative talk radio reporting more belief in negative stereotypes than those who rely on other TV sources or NPR for their news. However, though the gap was significant, it often wasn’t as large as you might expect given common perceptions of the wide divergence among, say, MSNBC and FOX News fans:
The researchers also conducted an online experiment on the impacts of negative media images on individual’s perceptions of Latinos. You can read the results of that aspect of the study in the full report (and read more about the research firm’s methods here).