Kristin Lunz Trujillo
I'm a full-time Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Carleton College and a Political Science PhD candidate with a minor in political psychology at the University of Minnesota. I am slated to defend my dissertation and receive my PhD in August 2021, and I am currently on the academic job market for a position starting in Summer/Fall 2022 or later.
In my research, I investigate why rural areas tend to support right-wing populism by looking at the psychology behind rural social identification, or a psychological attachment to rural areas. Political science has relatively few studies on how the urban-rural exists as a group and values-based division, particularly at the national level. In my dissertation, I combine insights from social psychology and populism literature, as well as methodological approaches, such as surveys and experiments, rather than the more typical ethnographic studies of rural identity.
Unlike other scholars studying rural identity in political science, I argue that it is less focused on rural residents’ socio-economic class and anti-urban resentment. Rather, rural identifiers occupy a middling position in terms of group status in society. This middling position maps well onto right-wing populism, which can be thought of as group-based: a corrupt elite and their unduly favored lower status group at the expense of the morally correct “people.” Rural residents see elites as an out-group, including experts and intellectuals, as well as immigrants, who are seen as being unfairly favored by experts ahead of themselves. Elites and intellectuals, as well as immigrants, are both seen as urban-affiliated but not urban per se; other groups in metro areas may be seen neutrally or even positively. Further, negative feelings toward the out-groups are driven by symbolic or status-based concerns, rather than material or economic ones. This tendency explains why rural identifiers are more likely to support right-wing outsider candidates among rural identifiers, support stricter immigration policies, and be more prone to adopting attitudes that go against scientific or medical consensus, while their relationship with partisanship or operational ideology is more tenuous. I have solo and co-authored pieces related to this research currently under review at multiple political science journals.
I also have a line of research on health and vaccine misinformation endorsement and correction. This work has been published in various outlets such as Political Research Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. One of these papers, "How Internet Access Drives Global Vaccine Skepticism" (with Matt Motta), won the Leonard S. Robins Award for Best Paper on Health Politics and Policy presented to the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Further, I have interviewed on both lines of research for outlets such as Times Radio UK and The Star Tribune . I have also co-written news pieces on vaccine hesitancy that have been picked up at outlets such as Time and U.S. News and World Report.
- B.A.: , Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 2012 -
- M.A.: Political Science, University of Minnesota, , 2019 -
- Political psychology
- Political, science, and health communication
- Public opinion
- Rural political behavior
- Public health and health politics