Evaluation of a Task Partner Who Does Or Does Not Have a Physical Disability: Response Amplification or Sympathy Effect?

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Research indicates that evaluations of persons with physical disabilities can be more extreme than evaluations of similarly portrayed individuals without physical impairments. The present investigation examines this phenomenon and is similar to a study conducted by Gibbons, Stephan, Stephanson, and Petty (1980). One-hundred-and-seventeen subjects interacted with a confederate who was or was not seated in a wheelchair and who performed well or poorly on a cooperative task. The confederate in the wheelchair, unlike the confederate in the Gibbons et al. study, acknowledged the impairment prior to working on the group task. The confederate in the wheelchair was evaluated more favorably, regardless of the task outcome. The results are discussed in terms of the possible effectiveness of disability avowal as an interactional tactic for individuals with disabling conditions.

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