Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 49 Issue 1 (January 2019), Pages 1-59

Is disability really an obstacle to success? Impact of a disability simulation on motivation and performance (pages 50-59)

Abstract In Western societies, statistics on the integration of people with disabilities into the labor market consistently indicate that this category of workers faces serious discrimination. Research has evidenced negative perceptions about their occupational skills, despite positive beliefs about their personal qualities. The main purpose of this study was to show how these subjective beliefs about disability can shape performance (speed and accuracy, Studies 1, 3, and 4) and self‐reported motivation (Studies 2, 3, and 4) of able‐bodied persons simulating a disability. Participants were 281 French students without disabilities who carried out a task either with or without a simulated disability. This simulated disability constituted an actual handicap to perform the task (Studies 1 and 2) or not (Studies 3 and 4). The first three studies were focused on cognitive abilities, whereas Study 4 introduced a job interview component. Results consistently showed that participants in the simulated disability situation completed the task more accurately than controls, but took more time to do so. Higher degrees of motivation and perseverance are found for participants in the simulated disability situation, except in a job interview setting. These results are important for understanding how subjective beliefs about persons with disabilities can constitute objective barriers to social participation, and more specifically, to access to the labor market.

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