Humor, hope, and gratitude scores as predictors of attitudes toward persons with disabilities

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William Wagner

Advisor Department



The purpose of this study was to examine hypothesized relationships between participants' characteristics (i.e., academic interest area, prior exposure to persons with disabilities, the positive personal characteristics of humor, hope and gratitude) and their self-report of cognitive, affective and behavioral responses to persons with disabilities, while controlling for social desirability. Undergraduate student participants at three MidAtlantic colleges were recruited from introductory courses in human services to complete survey packets. The instruments used to gather data for this study consisted of a demographic survey designed by the author, the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960), the Humor Styles Questionnaire (Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003), the Adult Dispositional Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1991), the Gratitude Questionnaire-6 (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002), the Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons Scale - Form O (Yuker, Block, & Campbell, 1960), the Relationships with Disabled Persons Scale (Satcher & Gamble, 2002), the Interaction with Disabled Persons Scale (Gething & Wheeler, 1992), and the Situational Response Questionnaire (Berry & Jones, 1991). A canonical correlation analysis was used to identify a combination of personal characteristics that are correlated with a combination of reactions to persons with disabilities. The primary multivariate finding of this study was that the combination of some, but not all, of the personal characteristics explored were correlated with the combination of some, but not all, of the measures of reaction toward persons with disabilities. A construct composed of the personal characteristics of affiliative humor and majoring in a human services field and, to a lesser degree, self-defeating humor, hope and prior exposure to persons with disabilities was correlated with a construct composed of cognitive attitudes toward persons with disabilities, and to a lesser degree, affective responses toward persons with disabilities. Though the findings of this study were significant, the amount of variability in criterion variables that was explained by the predictor variables was relatively small. This suggests that other factors account for the rather large amount of variability unexplained by the predictors included in this study.