Attitudes toward people with physical disabilities: An examination of social context, discipline, disability type, and demographics

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Despite the existence of studies examining attitudes toward people with disabilities (PWDs) in a workplace context, little is known about attitudes in other social contexts such as dating and marriage. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is threefold. First, the study seeks to examine how social context (i.e., work, dating, marriage) influences attitudes toward people with physical disabilities (PWPDs). Second, it examines potential influence of participant characteristics (i.e., gender, major, disability education, and frequency of contact). Third, it explores whether attitudes vary across different disability types. METHODS: To measure the influence of social context on attitudes toward PWPDs, the study used the Disability Social Relationship Scale (DSR), which was completed by 395 undergraduate students in Austria. RESULTS: Participants demonstrate more positive attitudes toward PWPDs in the workplace than in the social contexts of dating and marriage. Participants who had more frequent contact with PWDs (i.e., in a workplace/service setting or in a personal relationship) demonstrate more positive attitudes toward PWPDs. Participants have more positive attitudes toward some disability types (i.e., deafness/hardness of hearing) than others (blindness/visual impairment). CONCLUSION: We offer recommendations for future research and practice aimed at creating awareness of biases toward PWDs while promoting social justice.
  • Authors

  • Kalargyrou, Valentini
  • Pettinico, William
  • Chen, Po-Ju
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 15, 2021
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 117
  • End Page

  • 133
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 2