An Overview Of Ableism Research

Who Is Involved?

This research is conducted by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership.

When Did It Start?

Our research about ableism started in January of 2017 and is ongoing.

What Is The Project?

We utilize social psychology measures and methods to examine disability attitudes and disability prejudice.

Why Was It Created?

Since ableism is so prevalent, more research is needed to better understand how it operates in order to reduce it.

Where Is The Impact?

Thousands of people across the nation have participated in our research studies about ableism, disability attitudes, and disability prejudice.

How Does It Help The Field?

Knowing how ableism operates helps us not only change our behaviors to be less ableist, but also reduce ableism on a large scale.

Inside our Research on Ableism

Prejudice impacts the daily lives of people with disabilities. Our ableism research aims to measure how that happens; doing so is necessary so we can dismantle it.

What is Ableism?

Ableism is “discrimination in favor of the able-bodied,” including “the idea that a person’s abilities or characteristics are determined by disability or that people with disabilities as a group are inferior to nondisabled people” (Linton, 1998). Ableism manifests through pervasive institutional, systemic, and subtle discrimination.

Modern Ableism

People with disabilities have faced discrimination throughout history; this discrimination continues today. Ableism impacts not only systems and institutions, but also interactions between people, and people’s attitudes towards people with disabilities. Ableism impacts what people think and feel about people with disabilities, it impacts how service systems are funded, and how systems operate – it’s everywhere. Because ableism is so prominent and embedded in our culture, even well-intended people are often prejudiced against people with disabilities.

Our Research

Because of the prevalence of ableism, much more research is necessary to not only understand how it operates, but also to determine the best approaches to reducing it. For these reasons, ableism and disability prejudice is one avenue of research we pursue. We have completed a number of large and small scale studies exploring both explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) disability attitudes from a wide range of people.

Key Findings

  • Most people are prejudiced against people with disabilities
  • People are commonly implicitly (unconsciously) biased against people with disabilities
  • People can have different and/or conflicting levels of explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) bias towards people with disabilities
  • Even well-meaning people often hold prejudicial attitudes about disability
  • Prejudice can impact policies and funding, for example, there’s a link between institutionalization and prejudice

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