Contact theory was examined by comparing total and subscale attitude scores of children toward peers with disabilities (physical, learning, behavioral) in integrated (contact) and segregated (noncontact) physical education settings. Subjects were 455 children ages 9 to 12 years; class size was 40 to 45. Data were collected using the Peer Attitudes Toward the Handicapped Scale (PATHS). ANOVA on total attitude scores indicated gender differences, with girls having more positive attitudes, but no difference between settings. MANOVA on subscale attitude scores revealed gender differences, favoring girls, only on the physical disability subscale. Setting significantly affected attitudes toward physical and behavioral disabilities but not learning disabilities. Children in the integrated setting had significantly more positive attitudes toward peers with behavioral disabilities than those in the segregated setting, but the reverse was true toward peers with physical disabilities. Contact theory was supported by this research for only behavioral disability.
April Tripp is with Baltimore County Public Schools, 6901 Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21204. Ron French and Claudine Sherrill are with the Kinesiology Department, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX 76204.