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This study serves as a preliminary investigation of implicit (unconscious) attitudes that associate disability with child-like features. A version of the Implicit Association Test was developed to assess the implicit association of disability-related words with words related to childhood. In order to assess its psychometric properties, this “infantilization IAT” was administered, along with a more evaluative IAT and measures of more explicit attitudes, two times over the course of three to five days to 30 staff persons of a facility that serves persons with multiple disabilities. The study's results: (1) Support the notion that individuals tend to implicitly associate disability-related words with words connoting childhood or child-like features; (2) Suggest that the infantilization IAT assesses attitudes that might not be captured through more traditional measurement strategies, and (3) Demonstrate divergent validity of the infantilization IAT when compared to results of the evaluative IAT, but (4) Also suggest relatively low test-retest reliability of the infantilization IAT.

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Correspondence to Kenneth L. Robey.

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Robey, K.L., Beckley, L. & Kirschner, M. Implicit Infantilizing Attitudes About Disability. J Dev Phys Disabil 18, 441–453 (2006).

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