Understanding Disability Biases in Undergraduate Rehabilitation Students: An Exploratory Study

Allison Levine, Jinhee Park, Hung Jen Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Shaping and cultivating positive attitudes toward people with disabilities is an important task for all programs that prepare future rehabilitation practitioners. So too, is identifying potentially problematic attitudes or biases about ability status. With the growth of undergraduate rehabilitation programs, it is imperative for educators to understand the factors that may influence students’ biases about people with differing ability status. Many training programs address explicit biases (e.g., those measured via self report), but overlook the influence and existence of implicit biases among students. Furthermore, many trainings focus on stimulating awareness of potential bias, rather than diving into causes and impacts. In order to develop effective curricula for mitigating bias and training infused with social justice, it is critical to understand this phenomena. Using a quantiative design, the current study examines explicit and implicit biases of students in undergraduate rehabilitation programs at three institutions across the United States. Results support that explicit and implicit biases are two separate constructs and should be treated as such (i.e., educational activities about bias are not sufficient). In addition, the results were indicative of the importance of addressing biases as multidimensional, and the potential utility of contact experiences as a factor for mitigating bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-180
Number of pages9
JournalRehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2020.


  • attitudes toward disability
  • professionalism/professional issues
  • rehabilitation education
  • social barriers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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