Date of Award
Master of Arts in Psychology
Children's attitudes towards the crippled, the retarded, the mentally ill and normal people were assessed using the semantic differential. Subjects were ten boys and ten girls from both the third and sixth grades (total N=40). Separate analyses of variance with repeated measures were performed for each of the four scales of the semantic differential: Evaluation, Potency, Activity and Understandability.
A significant sex main effect was found for the Evaluation (p .05) and Activity (p .01) scales. Females rated all concepts more positively on these two scales than did males. A significant (p .01) grade by concept interaction was found for the Evaluation scale. Sixth graders rated the concept person relatively more negative than did the third grades
In addition, significant (p .01) concepts effects were found for all four scales. Normal people were evaluated more positively than any of the three disability groups and were viewed as being more understandable. Although normal people were viewed as more active and potent than both the crippled and retarded, they were not seen as more active and potent than the mentally ill.
The disability groups of the crippled and the retarded were not differentiated. However, the mentally ill were viewed as a distinctly different category of people. The mentally ill were evaluated more negatively and viewed as less understandable than the other two disability groups but they were also seen as more active and potent.
It was concluded that the semantic differential was a useful technique for differentiating children's attitudes towards concepts denoting various groups of people and the inclusion of the Understandability scale to the semantic differential was considered justified; Children as young as third graders were found to express different attitudes towards the groups of the crippled, the retarded, the mentally ill and normal people. Implications for the stereotypes of mental illness and for the social labeling theory of mental disorders were discussed.
Wilkins, Joan, "Children’s Attitudes Towards the Crippled, the Retarded and the Mentally Ill" (1977). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1694.