Verbal Interactions With Individuals Presenting With and Without Physical Disability

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Four experimenters (two male and two female) requested directions to the bookstore from male and female college students on a university campus. Each experimenter portrayed a student with a disability using a wheelchair and a student without a disability. Conversations were surreptitiously recorded, and verbal interaction patterns were analyzed. Significant differences were observed on all dependent variables, word counts, frequency of interrogatives, and use of locator words. These findings suggest that individuals with a disability are addressed differently than individuals without disabilities, and provide limited behavioral replication of research documenting differential responses of college students to persons with and without disabilities.

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