"Handicapped" or "Handi-Capable"?: The Effects of Language About Persons with Disabilities on Perceptions of Source Credibility and Persuasiveness

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Communication Theory and Research Division at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association


Western States Communication Association

Publication Date



This study examined how four types of language about people with disabilities affected perceptions of communicators' credibility and persuasiveness. Students read scenarios in which a communicator depicted people with disabilities as heroic, disabled, normal, or pathetic. Students then rated communicator's credibility and persuasiveness. Results indicated that communicators describing people with disabilities as pathetic were perceived to be less trustworthy and competent than the other three communicators, less sociable than the communicator who depicted people as heroic, and less persuasive than communicators who depicted people as heroic and disabled.


*undergraduate student; **graduate student

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