Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 90–99 | Cite as

College Students’ Perceptions of Peers with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Nicole L. MatthewsEmail author
  • Agnes R. Ly
  • Wendy A. Goldberg
Original Paper


Little is known about peer attitudes toward college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Affective, behavioral, and cognitive attitudes toward vignette characters displaying behaviors characteristic of ASD were examined among 224 four-year university students who were randomly assigned to one of three labeling conditions for the primary vignette characters: high functioning autism (HFA), typical college student, or no label. Students in the HFA label condition reported more positive behavioral and cognitive attitudes toward the vignette characters than students in the no label condition. Male students and students with lower scores on the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire reported more positive attitudes across study conditions. These experimental results suggest that knowledge of a diagnosis might improve attitudes toward college students with ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Postsecondary education Peer attitudes Young adults 



We thank the University of California, Irvine Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program for financial support of this project. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Kent Chiu, Rob Haghighi, and Lesley Lai to data collection and coding. We also thank the college students who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole L. Matthews
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Agnes R. Ly
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wendy A. Goldberg
    • 3
  1. 1.Southwest Autism Research and Resource CenterPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Social BehaviorUniversity of California IrvineIrvineUSA

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