Effect upon Desire for Social Interaction with a Physically Disabled Person of Mentioning the Disability in Different Contexts



An experiment investigated the effectiveness of strategies that could be used by a physically disabled person to reduce the social handicap of being avoided in first encounters. Female college students indicated their preference for social interaction before and after learning the other person was a male in a wheelchair or nondisabled. When the disabled person made a general comment mentioning his disability after a request for help or after a miscue, change in preference for social interaction was more positive than when he did not mention his disability, providing evidence for the effectiveness of mentioning the disability following an incident involving the disability. Mention of the disability in the absence of an incident involving the disability was not found to be effective. The different ways of mentioning the disability did not affect the favorability of impressions of the disabled person, as measured by ratings of his characteristics. Impressions were generally more favorable for the disabled person than the person not in a wheelchair.