Date of Award
R. Brian Giesler
Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are often the target of prejudice and discrimination. The current study was conducted to better understand why individuals react to children with ASD in a negative manner by focusing on the role of consensus information (i.e., what an individual perceives most others to believe). To investigate the potential impact of consensus information, we asked a sample of Butler University students (n = 111) to read classroom scenarios describing undesirable behaviors enacted by a student (e.g., interrupting the teacher). The target student was described as either a student from the general population or a student who has autism. Following each scenario were comments about the target student, either generally positive or negative, that were supposedly left by previous participants. Participants' reactions to the target student were then assessed. Although neither of the independent variables affected participants' reactions, there was a weak trend suggesting that consensus information did affect participants' reactions to the student, but only if the student has been portrayed as autistic. These findings suggest that one way to reduce prejudice and discrimination toward children with ASD may be to change individuals' perceptions of what they believe others' attitudes to be, as opposed to directly targeting individuals' attitudes about ASD.
Thornton, Kaitlyn C., "The Effects of Consensus Information on Perceptions of Children with Autism" (2021). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 590.