Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
This study examined several predictors of college students' attitudes toward individuals with autism. Three hundred thirty college students completed measures of general and behavioral knowledge of autism, quantity and quality of past contact with individuals who have autism, anxiety, attributions about behavioral and causal controllability of autism, respondent gender and socially desirable response tendency as well as the attitude dimensions of desired social distance, views of academic integration, the rights of business owners not to serve people with autism and behavioral intention to do volunteer work with people who have autism. Results suggested that students had relatively positive attitudes toward individuals with autism. General and behavioral knowledge, quantity and quality of contact, anxiety, attributions about behavioral control and respondent gender were significant predictors of one or more attitude dimensions. However, several mediational models of potential interrelationships among these predictors failed to fit the data. The need for further assessment of these attitudes and predictor variables, such as in relation to actual behaviors directed toward individuals with autism, is discussed.