Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Joshua A. Burk

Committee Members

Cheryl L. Dickter

Adrian Bravo

Randolph A. Coleman


An increasing number of individuals with ASD are attending colleges and universities (VanBergeijk et al., 2008). In order to create an environment that is welcoming to students with ASD it is worth examining methods to improve the attitudes of their typically developing peers (TD) toward individuals with ASD. Media portrayals of ASD have the potential to form knowledge and attitudes about ASD. Oftentimes these portrayals tend to overemphasize stereotypes and do not feature actors with ASD (Nordahl-Hensen & Oien, 2021; Ressa & Goldstein, 2021). In spite of these issues, there are benefits to viewing media portrayals of ASD and it is worth studying how these portrayals impact perceptions of individuals with ASD (Stern & Barnes, 2019). The current study sought to understand how different behaviors (stereotypical, relatable, information) in a single television portrayal of ASD impact attitudes toward individuals with ASD, knowledge about ASD, and attitudes toward the character with ASD. Results showed that there was no significant difference between the three conditions on a measure of attitudes toward individuals with ASD. There was a significant increase in measures of knowledge and attitudes toward the character with ASD in a condition in which a character with ASD speaks about her experiences with ASD (informational condition). Furthermore, contact served as a moderator for the effects observed in the informational condition with moderate to higher levels of contact with individuals with ASD leading to increased knowledge about ASD and attitudes toward the character with ASD. This provides further support for previous findings (White et al., 2019) that contact with individuals with ASD leads to greater knowledge and attitudes toward individuals with ASD.

Available for download on Friday, May 09, 2025

On-Campus Access Only