Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Slane, Steve

Subject Headings

Developmentally disabled -- Employment, People with mental disabilities -- Employment, Work environment, Stereotypes (Social psychology), Self-perception, stereotype, intellectual disabilities, self-perceptions


Community service agencies are advocating for the placement of individuals with intellectual disabilities into community employment positions. Despite training and follow-up services many of these individuals lost their jobs due to inferior performance. One explanation is the possibility that stereotype threat is a causal factor in this phenomenon. Stereotype threat has been linked to poor performance outcomes where the stereotype and performance domain are salient to the individual. Persons with intellectual disabilities may be affected by stereotype threat if the stereotype of mental retardation is salient to them. This study was designed, to investigate whether the stereotype is salient to individuals with mild intellectual disabilities, and if this salience is affected by work environment. Perceptions of individuals employed in community and sheltered settings were compared, using subjects old enough to work and have developed self image. Open ended question sets were used to conduct interviews in an in- person format with adults, 25-65 years old, working in either community or sheltered environments who agreed to participate. Participants were selected by case management or employment staff in the County's northwest regional service area. Results were analyzed, coded and themed by two reviewers. Individuals in community and sheltered work environments differed in their perceptions in each of the three dominate themes that emerged: self identity, work perceptions and disability awareness. While work was salient to all individuals, those in sheltered settings viewed work in terms of socialization opportunities as opposed to the community respondents who viewed work in terms of self support. Data analysis supported the hypothesis that work environment impacted stereotype salience. Findings showed that individuals in sheltered settings did not apply the stereotype of mental retardation to themselves and felt it more important to appear competent to others within their social circles than to be self-reliant out

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Psychology Commons