Attitudes toward retarded children: effects of labeling and academic performance

J. Gottlieb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The influence of the label 'mentally retarded' on the attitudes of peers was investigated in 2 independent replications, one with a middle class sample, and the other with a low SES sample. 48 middle class and 40 low SES fourth graders were shown one of two video tapes of two children taking a spelling test. Half of the subjects saw the target actor as being a competent speller, while the remaining half saw him as an incompetent speller. Half of each group was told that the target actor was either a fifth grade pupil, or a mentally retarded boy in a special class. Data from the two sets of 2 x 2 (Label x Competence) replications, indicated that the label did not significantly affect attitude scores. For the middle class sample, academic performance was a significant influence on expressed attitudes, with incompetent performance resulting in more negative evaluations. Academic performance did not affect attitude scores among the low SES sample. The data were interpreted as indicating that labels do not adversely influence the attitudes of peers toward labeled children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-273
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Mental Deficiency
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1974

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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