ERIC Number: ED026023
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1968-Sep-1
Reference Count: 0
The Influence of Disability Labels and Dialect Differences on the Semantic Differential Responses of College Students.
Semmel, Melvyn I.
A 15-minute interview was conducted separately with 2 5th grade boys (1 Caucasian, 1 Negro) who were matched on IQ and 4 pupil characteristics; home background, personality, social behavior, and academic ability. A semantic differential scale was constructed for the 4 characteristics, and 5 disability labels were assigned to each child: orthopedically handicapped, mentally retarded, emotionally disturbed, culturally deprived, and normal. Tapes of the 2 interviews were used in an experiment to study how dialects and disability labels would interact to affect conclusions drawn by 100 college juniors about the personal characteristics of the boys. Results showed that the disability labels had no meaningful effect upon the semantic differential scores. Semantic differential ratings on the personality scale for the interviews revealed no significant differences, but while mean scale scores for the 4 characteristics on the Caucasian child's tape did not differ, the personality scale mean for the Negro child's tape was higher than the other three characteristics. Later, 128 college juniors who had not participated in the experiment were asked to differentiate transcripts of the tapes according to race of interviewee. There was little evidence of ability to identify the race of either pupil from his verbal behavior, which suggests that negative r2 which suggests that negative inferences made in the experiment about the Negro child were probably caused by dialectical features of the taped interview. It may be that linguistic cues supplied by dialect are strong enough to minimize labeling effects. (WM)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC. Bureau of Research.
Authoring Institution: Michigan Univ., Ann Arbor. Center for Research on Language and Language Behavior.
Note: Submitted to USOE as one of Studies in Language and Language Behavior, Progress Report VII, September 1, 1968.