Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Amanda Blackmore


This study was designed to investigate the effects of (a) the presence of an obvious disability, (b) physical attractiveness, and (c) the sex of peers on children's attitudes towards accepting a peer. A 2 X 2 x 2 factorial design was used in which the three between-subject variables were (a) whether or not the subject had a disability, {b) whether the subject was attractive or unattractive, and (c) the sex of the respondent. A sample of 200 Year 7 students was divided into four groups containing 25 girls and 25 boys. The students were given background information, and shown a slide of a target female student, in which she was as follows: (a) attractive; (b) unattractive; (c) attractive and labelled disabled; or (d) unattractive and labelled disabled. They were then asked to complete an attitude survey which measured the three dependent variables: (a) in-school socialisation; (b) out of school socialisation; and (c) perceived academic competence. The three dependent variables measure the extent to which students would like to socialise with the target student (a) in school and (b) out of school, and their perception of her academic competence. A significant three-way interaction was found for perceived academic competence with the boys giving the lowest rating to the unattractive subject with a disability, and the girls giving this subject the highest rating. There was also significant disability by sex interactions for all three dependent variables, boys displayed more negative attitudes, whereas girls displayed more positive attitudes, towards the target student when she had a disability. In addition, there was a significant main effect for sex, with the boys displaying a much more negative attitude towards the subject than the girls.