THE THREAT OF ABLEIST ATTITUDES ON THE PERFORMANCE AND WELL-BEING OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
The dissertation includes two independent chapters which investigated the experiences of individuals with disabilities in connection with societal attitudes regarding disability. The first article is a systematized review which analyzes and synthesizes the existing literature on implicit and explicit disability attitudes across multiple domains (e.g., educational; occupational; healthcare). Chapter 1 identifies common themes across the existing literature and identifies potential predictors and buffers of negative disability attitudes. The article concludes with a call to counseling psychologists to address negative disability attitudes utilizing the roles and themes of the field. Finally, suggestions are made regarding the development and implementation of interventions to help address negative disability attitudes and the subsequent harmful effects.
The second article is an empirical study that examines factors related to the persistence intentions of individuals with disabilities to address the high attrition rates of this population within postsecondary environments. A moderated mediation model is proposed to address four hypotheses. First, I hypothesized academic self-efficacy would mediate the relationship between stereotype threat and persistence intentions. Second, coping self-efficacy would mediate the relationship between stereotype threat and persistence intentions. Third, social self-efficacy would mediate the relationship between stereotype threat and persistence intentions. Fourth, I hypothesized that endorsing a growth mindset would buffer against the negative indirect relationship between stereotype threat and persistence intentions which operate through academic self-efficacy. Data were collected from postsecondary students who identified as having one or multiple diagnosed disabilities at a large public university in the Midwest. The study results supported my first hypothesis that academic self-efficacy would significantly mediate the relationship between stereotype threat and persistence intentions. Additionally, the results revealed that high levels of perceived stereotype threat were associated with lower levels of coping self-efficacy and social self-efficacy, as the researcher anticipated. However, our second and third hypotheses were rejected due to these mediating factors not significantly influencing a participants’ intentions to persist within the academic environment. Finally, the results suggested that one’s mindset of intelligence was a positive main effect predictor of academic self-efficacy. However, contrary to our fourth hypothesis, mindset of intelligence did not significantly moderate the negative indirect relation between stereotype threat and persistence intentions that operate through academic self-efficacy.