Differences in Attitudes Towards People with Disabilities: Examining the Effects of the Presence of an Assistance Dog


Individuals with disabilities face various types of social stigma. Research suggests that the presence of an assistance dog leads to an increase in social interactions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether people’s attitudes toward individuals with disabilities differ when pairing that person with an assistance dog. Undergraduate students (N= 244) were randomly assigned to view an individual with a disability either alone or with an assistance dog. Participants rated their attitudes toward the individual, completed a newly developed Implicit Association Test, and answered behavioral intention questions. Results of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that individuals with more positives attitudes toward dogs had significantly more positive social attitudes toward the individual with a disability paired with a dog, after accounting for gender and dog ownership history. Additionally, individuals had an implicit bias toward an individual with a disability paired with an assistance dog over the individual alone

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This paper was published in VCU Scholars Compass.

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