Impact of a film portrayal of a police officer with spinal cord injury on attitudes towards disability: A media effects experiment

Jan D Reinhardt, Andrew Pennycott, Bernd AG Fellinghauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The portrayal of disabled people in the media can influence the public’s perception of disability in both positive and negative ways. In this article, an experimental before and after design is used to determine the effects of a short film on the attitudes of non-disabled and disabled persons concerning employment and productivity of persons with disabilities.
Method: Three questions were posed to 480 study participants prior to and following a short film featuring a police officer with paraplegia. Linear mixed models were used to assess the effects of time point and disability status on the responses.
Results: The non-disabled participants’ ratings of eligibility for employment of a paraplegic man and estimates of the employment rate of disabled people were significantly enhanced following the film. Nevertheless, the film had no significant effects on the ratings given by participants with disabilities in terms of eligibility, employment rate or productivity.
Conclusions: This investigation highlights the potentially important influence of media portrayal and coverage of people with disabilities on attitudes of the public concerning disability.
Implications for Rehabilitation
Restrictions in participation may result from an interaction of persons with impairments with an environment that is dominated by negative attitudes towards disability
The portrayal of disabled people in the media can influence the public’s attitudes towards disability in both positive and negative ways
In this experimental study, attitudes of the general public were significantly improved following viewing a short film featuring a positive media portrayal of a police officer with paraplegia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-294
Number of pages6
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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