Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award



Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Ethan McMahan

Honors Program Director

Dr. Gavin Keulks


The current study examined the Asperger label and compared differences in affect, cognition, and behavior towards an individual with Asperger’s when a person knows the individual has Asperger’s and when they are unaware. It was predicted that when the diagnosis is known there will be more negative attitudes towards the individual with Asperger’s. It is also predicted participants will have more positive attitudes if they have experience or knowledge with Asperger’s or autism. There were 39 participants from Western Oregon University. Twenty-six were female and 13 were male (Mage=22.4, SD=6.56). Participants read a short profile that described an individual with Asperger-like behaviors and social encounters. The Multidimensional Attitudes Scale of Attitudes Towards Persons with Disabilities (Findler, Vilchinsky, &Werner, 2007) was used to measure negative affect, cognition, and behavior. Results concluded that when the Asperger label is unknown, there are significantly higher negative effects and significantly more negative behaviors. Negative cognition was higher for those who did not know the label, but the statistic did not reach significance. Regression analyses were ran to examine if experience had an association with affect, cognition, and behavior, but did not reach significance. These results show that knowing a person’s disability may create a better understanding of behaviors and, therefore, less negative attitudes towards the individual. Having experience with Asperger’s or autism does not associate with higher attitudes.