This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Refinement of a Multidimensional Computer Based Implicit Association Test as a Measurement of Attitudes Toward Persons with Disabilities




Vaughn, Edwin Daly

Type of Degree





Currently, persons with disabilities (PWDs) account for approximately one-fifth of the adult US population (Steinmetz, 2006). Legislation has been passed to help protect PWDs (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act). However, disparity still exists within the workforce between persons with and without disabilities in percentage of persons employed (Taylor, 2000) and pay once employed (Steinmetz, 2006). Attitude research offers one approach to better understood and counteract barriers in the workforce for PWDs. The current study extended previous research investigating the utility of the Multiple Disability Implicit Association Test (MDIAT; Thomas, Doyle, & Vaughn, 2007). The MDIAT uses separate IAT administrations for four disability groups (i.e., persons with and without: cancer, paraplegia, mental illness, and alcoholism). Two-hundred forty nine undergraduate participants completed the study. This multidimensional IAT was modified and the psychometric properties were investigated. The measure was scored using an updated scoring algorithm (Greenwald, Nosek, & Banaji, 2003) believed to maximize validity of the IAT measurement and minimize measurement error. Results of the study indicated implicit bias was found for people with a disability versus people without a disability for all four of the disabilities. However, the MDIAT was susceptible to a practice or experience effect whereas individual IAT administration scores tended to decrease across successive IAT administrations. No relationship existed between the MDIAT scores and a commonly used and validated self-report measure, the Interaction with Disabled Persons (IDP) scale. In addition, the MDIAT was not found to be related to general cognitive ability, socially desirable responding, or the interaction between the two. The IDP was susceptible to socially desirable responding but not to cognitive ability. The study provides mixed evidence concerning the potential utility for the MDIAT in research and practice. Although the MDIAT was not susceptible to socially desirable responding whereas the self report measure was, the existence of an experience or practice effect provides a threat to the usefulness or interpretability of the scores. Caution should be taken when using the IAT technique in training or work settings as previous experience or exposure to the procedure may falsely indicate less implicit bias. Future research should investigate the predictive validity of the MDIAT.