Attitudes Towards Special Olympics Athletes

The Role of motionball in Promoting Positive Attitudes Towards People with Intellectual Disabilities

What’s this project about?

An important part of the Special Olympics (SO) mission is to address barriers to inclusion through sport. The attitudes that people hold toward intellectual disability (ID) can be one of these barriers. It is, therefore, important to identify ways of improving attitudes towards people with intellectual disability. There is some research to show that contact with people with intellectual disability is related to more positive perceptions of individuals with ID. A Canadian organization called motionball works to bring Special Olympic athletes and people without ID together to participate in integrated sport events. Research has yet to look at the role of motionball, and more specifically integrated sport participation, in promoting positive attitudes towards individuals with ID. This study will examine whether people who have participated in motionball events differ in their attitudes towards individuals with ID compared to peers who have not had contact with motionball or SO.

How will we go about doing this project?

Individuals who have participated in motionball events and a matched control group will be asked to complete an online survey measuring attitudes towards ID, along with prior contact with and knowledge about ID, demographic information, and social desirability.

What will we do with our research findings?

Through collaboration with the motionball organization, findings from this study will provide descriptive information regarding who is currently taking part in events, and will aid in establishing a foundational understanding of how meaningful contact with SO athletes can influence attitudes towards people with intellectual disability. The proposed study serves as a first step to more elaborate research questions that examine the role of integrated sport participation in attitude change, and whether attitude change positively influences individual functioning for individuals with ID. Empirical evidence indicating pathways amongst individual and interpersonal factors could help inform methods for enhancing the motionball program to further promote positive public attitudes and increase meaningful contact with individuals with ID.

What is the next step?

Data collection is almost complete. Stay tuned for study results and updates!

Want to know more about this project?

For more information, please feel free to contact, Dr. Jonathan Weiss, Principal Investigator on the study, at jonweiss@yorku.ca.


This project is funded by Special Olympics Canada.