Attitudes Toward Persons with Down Syndrome: The Impact of Television

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Abstract

This study examined the impact of different styles of television portrayal of a young adult male with Down Syndrome upon the attitudes of 92 undergraduate students. Their attitudes were considered using measures of beliefs, feelings of comfort, behavioral intentions, volunteering intentions, social desirability and variables associated with previous contact (quality and quantity of contact and media exposure). Participants were assigned to experimental conditions based on television viewing preferences. They viewed one of three programs: “Man Alive: David” (documentary), “Life Goes On” (drama), or “My So Called Life” (control). A multiple stepwise regression yielded a number of predictors of attitudes including: gender, experimental condition, quality and quantity of previous contact, prior media exposure, and social desirability.