College Students with Physical Disabilities: Myths and Realities

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ABSTRACT.This investigation (1) explored affect concerning interaction between nondisabled individuals and people with various disabilities, (2) examined stereotyping by both disabled and nondisabled students, (3) compared aspects of the self-concepts of nondisabled and disabled persons, and (4) evaluated nondisabled individuals' beliefs about these. Results show that nondisabled college students were less comfortable with disabled than with able-bodied peers. Students with disabilities, although equally comfortable with nondisabled individuals and with those who have the same disability as they do, were as uncomfortable as able-bodied individuals with peers who have a disability different from their own. Wheelchair user, visually impaired, and nondisabled college students had similar self-esteem, social anxiety, dating anxiety, and dating behavior. When predicting the responses of others, nondisabled students scored both able-bodied and disabled peers lower on most dimensions of self-concept than the actual scores of these groups indicate. Differences were greatest, however, between the self-concepts of people with disabilities and nondisabled individuals' beliefs about these. Furthermore, students with disabilities shared the myths believed by their nondisabled peers.

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