Does the presence of a Learning Disability elicit a stigmatization?
Aims: To determine whether or not a Learning Disability(LD) label leads to stigmatization. Study Design: This research used a 2(sex of participant) x 2(LD label)x 2 (Sex of stimulus person) factorial design. Place and Duration of Study: Bucknell University, between October 2010 and April 2011. Methodology: Sample: We included 200 participants (137 women and 63 men, ranging in age from 18 – 75 years, M = 26.41. Participants rated the stimulus individual on 27 personality traits, 8 Life success measures, and the Big-5 personality dimensions. Also, participants completed a Social Desirability measure. Results: A MANOVA revealed a main effect for the Learning Disability description, F(6, 185) = 6.41 p< .0001, eta2 = .17,for the Big-5 personality dimensions, Emotional Stability, F(1, 185) = 13.39, p < .001, eta2 = .066, and Openness to Experiences F(1,185) = 7.12, p< .008, eta2 = .036.Stimulus individuals described as having a learning disability were perceived as being less emotionally stable and more open to experiences than those described as not having a learning disability. Another MANOVA revealed a main effect for having a disability or not, F(8, 183) = 4.29, p< .0001, eta2 = .158, for the Life Success items, Attractiveness, F(1, 198) = 16.63, p< .0001, eta2 = .080, and Future Success,F(1, 198) = 4.57, p< .034, eta2 = .023. Stimulus individuals described as having a learning disability were perceived as being less attractive and with less potential for success than those described as not having a learning disability. Conclusion: The results of this research provide evidence that a bias exists toward those who have learning disabilities. The mere presence of an LD label had the ability to cause a differential perception of those with LDs and those without LDs.