Friday, February 7, 2014

Measurement of Attitudes Toward Persons with Disabilities

Measurement of Attitudes Toward Persons with Disabilities
Given that measuring attitudes toward people with disabilities can be very complex, it was important that this study utilizes appropriate measurement instruments to conduct the assessment. Over the years, the techniques used to measure attitudes toward persons with disabilities have been mainly varied (Yuker et al, 1970). In general, Antonak and Livneh (1995) grouped attitude measurement methods into two: direct and indirect attitude measurement methods.
Direct methods include respondents that are made aware that their attitudes are being measured by the nature of the measurement technique. These include opinion surveys, interviews, sociometrics, rankings, adjective checklists, paired comparison scales, semantic differential scales, summated rating scales, and social distance scales. Although there is a significant variation among these methods, all are prone to certain systematic errors that threaten the validity of the resulting data; namely, respondent sensitization, response styles, and reactivity (Antonak & Livneh, 1988, as cited in Antonak and Livneh, 1995). Indirect attitude measurement methods on the other hand are utilized to address these threats. Examples of indirect method include physiological methods, nonobtrusive behavioral observations, projective techniques, and disguised procedures (Livneh & Antonak, 1994). Unlike direct methods, the respondent's responses on an indirect measure are thought to expose latent psychosocial constructs that are inferred as attitude. Moreover, indirect methods have not often been used in disability attitude research (Livneh & Antonak, 1994).
Gething (1994) identified widely-used instruments and methodologies in measuring attitudes specifically toward persons with disabilities. These measures are most of the time in paper-and-pencil test format such as self-report measures, report about others, social distance scales, sociometric techniques, open-ended techniques and survey methodology.
Self-report measures. This is considered as the most direct type of attitude assessment. These include instruments which involves individual reporting his/her own attitudes, feelings and reactions. These can be collected verbally through interviews, survey and polls, or on paper through attitudinal rating scales, logs, journals or diaries. These measures are most useful if the subjects of attitude assessment can understand the questions asked of them. They must as well have adequate awareness to share important information and are expected to give honest answers and not purposively falsify their responses.
Report about others. These entail one person to describe another person or concept, either orally or in writing. Techniques include interviews, questionnaires, logs, journals, report and observational procedures.
Social distance scales. These are measures that require a person to make a series of decisions on how closely s/he is willing to mingle and interact with persons such as those with disabilities.
Sociometric techniques. These techniques ask the person to make decisions (e.g. Who do you like best/least?) about other members of a group to which s/he belongs. These explore patterns of interaction in a group to investigate matters such as acceptance and isolation. These are most often used with children and adolescents, or in a group having members with disabilities.
Open-ended technique. This technique uses oral or written open-ended questions that are content-analyzed using a predetermined set of criteria. This requires a considerable amount of time but is less susceptible to faking and social desirability bias than questionnaires.
Survey methodology. This has the advantage of permitting a large body of data to be gathered in a relatively short period of time.
A number of scales exist to measure attitudes towards disability (Daruwalla and Darcy, 2005). This is the result of attitude research that paved the way to a large number of instruments aimed to measure attitudes toward people with disabilities (Findler et al, 2007). Table 1, found on the succeeding page, presents a list of instruments measuring attitudes toward persons with disabilities (Getachew, 2011).
Findler et al, (2007) says that the instruments that have been developed over the years can be categorized in different ways. For instance, these instruments can be grouped according to content or context. Some can be seen to measure attitudes toward people with disabilities in general (e.g. Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons Scale (ATDP), Yuker, Block, & Campbell, 1960), while others center on a specific disability or population (e.g. Attitudes to Deafness Scale, Cowen, Rockway, & Bobrove. 1967).  Other instruments relate to certain social situations, such as attitudes toward disability or attitudes toward inclusion (e.g. Attitudes Toward Inclusive Education Scale, Wilczenski, 1992).
Another manner of classification relay to the psychometric properties of the instrument (e.g. direct and indirect methods). The more commonly used are direct methods, wherein respondents are knowledgeable that their attitudes are being measured, while indirect methods involves subjects being unaware of what is being measured. 
The instruments can also be categorized in psychometric terms by the dimensionality of the scale. For example, the Attitude Toward Disabled Person Scale (Yuker et al., 1970) utilizes a unidimensional single-score method to measure generalized attitude. On the other hand, multidimensional measurement is employed in six factor Interaction With Disabled Persons Scale (Gething, 1994).

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