Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Rehabilitation and Counselor Education

First Advisor

John Wadsworth

Abstract

In the literature, researchers have shown that although people tend to express their positive attitudes toward people with disabilities (PWD), their internal reference about PWD is still based on a negative image about disability. Particularly, some scholars have noted that individuals without disabilities have both explicit favorable and implicit unfavorable attitudes toward PWD. Meanwhile, other scholars have commented that although negative implicit attitudes toward PWD are resistant to change, the expressions of such attitudes have become more insidious than before. Such phenomena are called microaggressions and have been explored from the perspective of PWD. However, there is no research currently designed to understand how people without disabilities perceive disability-related microaggressions.

The purpose of this study was to apply Q-methodology to investigate perceptions of college students without disabilities regarding microaggressions toward PWD. This study also explored differences in these perceptions in terms of students' close contact experience with PWD, as well as their gender. The research questions include: (1) "How many perceptions are there when college students without disabilities check statements of disability-related microaggressions?" (2) "What are those perceptions?" (3) "Does gender differentiate perceptions of college students without disabilities when they check statements of disability-related microaggressions?" and (4) "Do close contact experiences with PWD differentiate perceptions of college students without disabilities when they check statements of disability-related microaggressions?"

This study mainly analyzed 18 participants' data through Q-analysis, qualitative content analysis, and split-plot comparison. The results showed that three unique perceptions existed when participants perceived microaggressions toward PWD. The first perception disclosed participants' support of fact-oriented understanding of PWD (especially individuals who were blind or in a wheelchair), as well as their opposition to inequality toward PWD. The second perception revealed participants' good intention concerning help and strength of PWD (especially individuals who were blind or in a wheelchair), and their disagreement with inequality toward PWD. The third perception indicated participants' intention of helping PWD, assuming their helplessness, and disagreement with inequality toward PWD. Finally, participants' gender and close contact experience with PWD did not differentiate those perceptions. The discussion, limitations and implications of the study results will be presented.

Keywords

College students, Microaggressions, People with disablities, Q-methodology

Pages

viii, 164 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 156-164).

Copyright

Copyright 2014 Junfei Lu

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