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The integration of children with disabilities into the the mainstream: effects of school and age on mainstream children's attitudes toward disability

Maras, Pamela Frances (1993) The integration of children with disabilities into the the mainstream: effects of school and age on mainstream children's attitudes toward disability. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86191) (KAR id:86191)


Two theoretical models of intergroup contact, both claiming to identify precursors for generalised attitude change were applied to the integration of children with disabilities into mainstream schools. One, Hewstone and Brown (1986) distinguishes between interpersonal and intergroup contact and proposes that the second of these, intergroup or categorized contact, will produce the most favourable attitudes towards the outgroup(s) as a whole. The other, Brewer and Miller (1984), argues that the key to successful contact between groups is to abandon all references to the different groups in an effort to 'decategorize' the situation. This, they believe, will lead to more interpersonal friendships forming across category boundaries and, eventually, to more positive intergroup attitudes in general. It was hypothesized that the first, categorised, theoretical stance would be the most conducive to generalised attitude change.

256 school children were interviewed and differences in the children's attitudes towards disability as an effect of the two types of contact with children with disabilities were detected. Data from the study demonstrate the criteria children use to categorise unknown disabled/non-disabled children and the potential relationship between this categorization and their expressions of liking (affect) and some of their perceptions of psychological and physical attributes (stereotypes) of groups of unknown children (disabled and non-disabled). Support was found for the categorized model of contact although findings were in a negative direction.

A follow up quasi-experimental study looked at temproal effects of categorized contact in an integrated programme involving children with severe learning disabilities (SLD). A similar pattern to that in the main study was found in the initial categorizing strategies and evaluative judgements of both integrating and control children. At the end of the programme, the pattern stayed the same for the children in the control class. However, sorting strategies of the integrating children were more idiosyncratic and there were some very clear differences between the 'experimental' and 'control' children on a number of evaluative dimensions.

Implications of findings for policy and current social psychological models of contact between groups and children's social development are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86191
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Uncontrolled keywords: Psychology; children; schools; disability
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:33 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 15:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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