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The origins of stigma: Reactions by male and female pre-school children to a leg amputation

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American Corrective Therapy Journal





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Eighty pre-school children (40 male and 40 female) were tested by an interviewer in a handicapped condition (one leg amputation clearly visible) or by an interviewer who appeared physically normal in a nonhandicapped condition (the same interviewer wearing a prosthesis). Male and female interviewers each tested 10 boys and 10 girls in a handicapped and a nonhandicapped condition. The following measures were taken: the distance the child sat from the interviewer, the response time for five questions, the length of time a child played a game, the total interview time, the number of verbal references made by children to the amputation when tested in the handicapped condition. Significant findings were: subjects played the game longer when tested by the female interviewer than the male, male children played the game longer than female children, children had longer total interview times when tested by the female interviewer than the male, and male children had longer interview times than female children, children gave more help to the female interviewer than to the male and male subjects showed more helping behavior than female subjects, and male subjects made more verbal references to the missing limb in the handicapped condition than female subjects. It was suggested that female pre-school children may learn to inhibit overt responses to a physical disability at an earlier age than males. There were no significant differences for any of the dependent measures involving handicapped versus nonhandicapped comparisons.

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