Perceptions of Young Adolescents About a Hypothetical New Peer With Cancer: An Analog Study

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ObjectiveTo assess attitudes and behavioral intentions (desire to engage a peer in academic, social, and general activities) of young adolescents toward a hypothetical new peer with cancer and to assess the relationship between attitudes and empathy.MethodsTwo hundred fifty middle school students viewed videotapes of a hypothetical peer (i.e., actor) with or without cancer. Participants completed a measure of empathy and a measure of social desirability before viewing the videotape. Participants completed a measure of attitudes and a measure of behavioral intentions after viewing the videotape.ResultsParticipants gave significantly higher ratings of behavioral intention (e.g., were more accepting) to the peer with cancer than to the healthy peer. Also, participants with high empathy reported more favorable impressions toward the hypothetical new peer than did participants with low or moderate empathy. Female participants had more favorable attitudes and behavioral intentions toward the hypothetical new peer than did male participants.ConclusionsThe social perceptions of young adolescents about peers with cancer may be less negative than previously hypothesized.

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