Students’ Stereotypes of Autism

Chantelle Wood, Megan Freeth


This research aimed to ascertain the contents (Study 1) and valence (Study 2) of the stereotype associated with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in university students. Study 1 used a free-response methodology where participants listed the characteristics that they thought society associates with individuals with ASC. This study revealed that the stereotypic traits most frequently reported by students without personal experience of ASC were poor social skills, being introverted and withdrawn, poor communication and difficult personality or behaviour. Study 2 had participants rate the valence of the 10 most frequently mentioned stereotypic traits identified in Study 1, along with additional traits frequently used to describe disabled and non-disabled people. This study found that eight of the ten most frequently listed stereotypic traits from Study 1 were seen as negative, and were rated significantly more negatively than traits used to describe non-disabled people. The knowledge of the contents and valence of the stereotype of ASC gained from this research can be used to tackle negative aspects of this stereotype.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Chantelle Wood, Megan Freeth

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Journal of Educational Issues  ISSN 2377-2263


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