A Case Study Exploring Attitudes about People with Disability: Evaluating the Intergroup Communication Intervention
Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy
Objective: Several entities have been implementing measures to improve individuals' attitudes toward people with disability (PwD) with varying successes. This study aims to use the case of an intergroup interaction program (Intergroup Communication Intervention; ICI) to explore issues related to PwD-attitude change, especially how attitudes may change for better or for worse, as a part of the intergroup communication. The goal of the ICI is to positively affect college students' attitudes about
... ts' attitudes about out-group members through systematic, supported, longitudinal intergroup contact. Methods: This study employed a case study methodology to identify factors that impact college students' attitudes toward PwD. Twenty-four students from a Midwestern University partnered with PwDs at a local residential facility and wrote reflective notes about their experiences. The notes were analyzed using a qualitative evaluation methodology. Results: Findings showed that students' attitudes toward PwD changed during the relationship building process; specifically, when they focused on the capabilities of PwD instead of their disability and as they confronted their inherent biases about PwD. Students also described more PwD observed comfort with and disclosure to students more after consistent interactions. Conclusion: We suggest that intervention programs aimed at improving attitudes about PwD should be longitudinal and include opportunities for direct interaction between PwD and differently-abled individuals. Impact and Implications • This study examines a communication-based intervention grounded in Intergroup Contact Theory as an important tool in improving attitudes between in-groups and out-groups. • The equality and face-to-face benefits of these types of interventions can be leveraged by scholars to create supportive environments for trust building between differently-abled individuals and PwD and to develop PwD's social and interpersonal skills. • Institutions of higher education should cooperate with local communities to provide extensive training in order to motivate young adults to engage in community-engaged programs. • Communication technologies (e.g. Kindle and iPads) should be included in PwD intervention programs as they can help bridge differences and start conversations between PwD and differently-abled individuals.