Attitudes Towards College Students with Autism


My name is Rose Braue and I am a rising senior and psychology major. While I have had previous research experience this past summer at a university in New Jersey where I live, this will be my first time conducting research for William & Mary. One of the main reasons I choose William & Mary was because of its excellent hands-on psychology research opportunities, so I am excited to take advantage of this research opportunity with autism this summer!

My research will be a continuation of the work done by Dr. Joshua Burk and Dr. Cheryl Dickter in their Autism Laboratory and is designed to explore and measure the implicit and explicit attitudes of college students toward other university students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Explicit attitudes can be described as those we are consciously aware of and implicit attitudes are those that are unconscious. Both attitudes have a significant impact on our beliefs and actions.

The majority of my work will involve coding, interpreting and cleaning data that has previously been collected at the William & Mary Autism Lab.  The methodology includes having the participants complete the Implicit Association Test, which measures the implicit bias towards those with autism spectrum disorders. More specifically, this test is composed of tasks requiring the participant to categorize certain stimuli (such as words) into categories. Those with a high measurement of implicit bias will more often categorize certain negative stimuli with autism-related words and more positive stimuli with normal related words. The outcome would be a faster reaction time categorizing the autism words with negative stimuli and normal words with positive stimuli. After completing this test, the participants will finish the Autism Spectrum Quotient, the Intergroup Attitudes Survey, the Societal Attitudes Towards Autism Scale, and also will be asked to list positive and negative words they associate with autism.

I have a passion for psychology and research and am eager to expand our findings about student mindsets toward autism.  My goal is to enhance our understanding of autism and better educate the campus community about it and decrease the stigma and bias toward students with autism. Thank you again for this opportunity and I look forward to posting more about my research!


  1. Anja Draper says:

    Hi Rose,

    I am also conducting research into how attitudes to autism impact vaccination behaviours. I have used the Societal Attitudes to Autism Scale as well but am having difficult accessing a copy of the scoring guidelines. Would you know where I can find this document? I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards


  2. I find it very interesting that you are able to quantitatively measure implicit and explicit attitudes that are a part of human nature. It makes me wonder about how far psychology research has come in these past few years, and the rate at which it is expanding!