This study was intended to test to understand if the interventions done could change the negative attitudes towards the physically disabled people hold today. It is important to point out while, “open antipathy or dislike towards people who are physically different is no lover socially desirable. However, feelings of discomfort, rejection or fear during interaction with a disabled person are still prevalent.” (Altwasser & Krahe , 2006) The main aim of the study was to see if they could use three different conditions, to change or modify the attitudes towards these people. The three conditions used were; cognitive intervention, cognitive and behavioral intervention (involving direct contact with the physical disabled group), and no-intervention control. According to (Altwasser & Krahe , 2006), “The hypotheses being studied is that the combined cognitive and behavioural intervention would be more successful changing the negative attitudes toward the physically disabled than the cognitive intervention group alone, this hypothesis was based on Allport’s contact hypothesis.” The second hypothesis being investigated was that participants who had been in contact with disabled persons previous to the interventions would have more positive views and attitudes.
Summary of the Method The type of research design used to conduct this study was experimental interventions. The participants in this study were seventy ninth grade students chosen at random, the interventions were conducted at the school during two ninety minute periods. Prior to the first session in the baseline groups completed a questionnaire measuring attitudes towards the physically disabled, after these questionnaires were filled out the seventy ninth grade were then randomly allocated to one of three experimental conditions; a cognitive intervention group which twenty-two students were put into, a combined cognitive and behavioural intervention which had twenty-four students and a no intervention control group which also had twenty-four. Prior interaction with physically disabled people and the participant’s likeliness to alter their attitude due to social attractiveness were also taken into account. The effects of the interventions were measured twice; right after the intervention and in a follow up three months later using the same questionnaire used in the baseline. The cognitive intervention provided the participants a chance to learn about and discuss physical disability. An extensive discussion took place during both sessions based upon these seven elements.
1. Spoke of individual experiences in interacting with psychically disabled people.
2. Established a definition of physical disability.
3. Introduced a classification of disabilities based on nine categories specified by the World Health Organization.
4. Conversed the classification of physically disabled people.
5. Offered a historical summary of how physically disabled people were treated in the past.
6. Discussed the issue of interacting with physically disabled person, based on five scenarios.
7. Dispelled the stereotypical conceptions about people with physical disabilities. The combined cognitive and behavioural intervention consisted of one forty-five minute session of a discussion including the above elements and a second forty-five minute session participating in activities in the school gym with nine physically disabled athletes. They introduced the students to three Paralympic games: goalball, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. For goalball students were blindfolded to be given the illusion of blindness, for sitting volleyball they had to hit the ball sitting down without using their lower extremities, and in wheelchair basketball, students were in wheelchairs playing basketball. Following both interventions participants were asked to indicate how much they like the session, how much fun they had, how much they