Title

University Students’ Attitudes Towards Persons with Disabilities

Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department/Major

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Barbara Yutrzenka

Second Advisor

Ms. Ernetta Fox

Third Advisor

Dr. Gemma Skillman

Keywords

disability, attitudes, contact, wheelchair, Down syndrome

Subject Categories

Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Psychology

Abstract

Attitudes toward persons with cognitive and developmental disabilities have displayed a wide range throughout history. However, negative attitudes have been evolving in a more positive direction during the last several decades. Legislation has been passed that has given persons with disabilities equal opportunities for education, employment, housing and more. With a more active role in society, people without disabilities are currently having more contact and interaction with individuals with disabilities than ever before. The university students of today are interacting with students with disabilities in the classroom setting and are likely to continue having these interactions in their professional lives. The purpose of this study was to examine university student attitudes towards persons with disabilities. The results supported the hypotheses that students with more experience with persons with disabilities will report more positive attitudes and that students will respond more positively to a scenario involving a person with a physical disability than a person with a cognitive or intellectual disability. The exploratory hypothesis that women will display more positive attitudes than men was not supported by the results. Findings suggest that gaining experience with persons with disabilities is important for gaining understanding and improving attitudes towards persons with disabilities.

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