Date of Graduation

Spring 2016


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

William Deal


Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often experience stigma through acts of discrimination, bullying, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additional concerns of bearing the diagnosis include being treated differently by peers and an overall sense of feeling different than others. However, inclusive behavior and positive attitudes toward individuals with ASD can be facilitated through contact and interventions. This study sought to understand the impact of an empathic training video compared to an educational training video on college students' beliefs and knowledge about peers with this disorder. Results were significant for participants receiving the empathic training for higher scores on beliefs about the abilities of those with ASD as well as more positive opinions held toward them. Further findings indicate significant increases in beliefs about abilities and knowledge of the disorder for individuals with a close friend or family member diagnosed with ASD. This supports the use of empathy inspired trainings to facilitate more positive opinions and views about individuals with ASD.


autism, peer perceptions, stigma, intergroup contact hypothesis, beliefs, knowledge, disability

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© Asia Rose Hulse

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