A Preliminary Investigation of the Role of Differential Complexity and Response Style in Measuring Attitudes Towards People with Disabilities

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Rehabilitation Psychology




American Psychological Association

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This report investigated a potentially complex relationship between cognitive complexity and attitudes towards people with disabilities in a 3-part study using two undergraduate student samples. In Study 1 (n = 126), subjects' responses to the Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons Scale (ATDP-O) were not significantly correlated with the Repertory Grid Test (RGT). This finding suggests no relationship between attitudes and a generic measure of cognitive complexity. In Study 2 (n = 57), subjects' responses to the ATDP-O were positively correlated with a disability-specific repertory grid technique. This finding suggests an inverse relationship between domain-specific cognitive complexity and positive attitudes. In Study 3, findings from Study 1 were reanalyzed. Subjects' responses to the ATDP-O were transformed using a repertory grid scoring technique; significant correlations were found between the tendency of subjects to respond redundantly and positive attitudes as measured by the ATDP-O, and the tendency to respond redundantly and lower cognitive complexity as measured by the RGT. These findings suggest that a large group of individuals who process information by focusing on differences, rather than similarities, may be inappropriately assessed by the ATDP, or other instruments that use a similar format in assessing attitudes.


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