Personality, Attentional Focus, and Novelty Effects: Reactions to Peers With Disabilities

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Tested the hypothesis that common reactions to people with disabilities are partly due to the attentional consequences of novelty and explored the impact of personality on nondisabled individuals' reactions, three hundred and fifty one college students completed personality measures (social anxiety, shyness, public self- consciousness, self-monitoring) and indicated their feelings, self and other-focused thoughts, and behavioral intentions concerning a hypothetical encounter with an “average” student or with 2 types of novel peers: student with a disability and an all-round outstanding individual. Implications of the findings, which indicate that (1) novelty provides a partial explanation of interaction problems between nondisabled and disabled peers and (2) personality factors have a different impact on thoughts and feelings about encounters with peers who are novel than on those who are not, are discussed.

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