Honors Theses


Thomas Farnsworth



Publication Date

Spring 4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Physically disabled individuals experience hardships that are more severe than the general public in both Malawi, African and in the United States. Disabled Malawians and Americans experience lower employment rates and lower annual incomes than the general public. Additionally, there is a lower educational attendance rate among disabled individuals in each country. This study sought to determine what factors contributed to these educational and employment deficiencies in both countries. Possible factors for the deficit may include discrimination, poor infrastructure, or the severity of the physical disability. A survey was administered to students (N = 52) at the University of Dayton and to students (N = 52) at the University of Livingstonia in Malawi. The first questionnaire asked participants to evaluate fictitious applicants applying to medical school, with one applicant pictured in a wheelchair. In theory, if participants rated the handicapped applicant as having a lower chance for success than the other applicants, discrimination would be present. No significant difference was found between ratings of the handicapped applicant and other applicants in either country. The second questionnaire evaluated how the participant felt the general public treated disabled persons. A strong relationship existed between “quality of transportation” and “access to education” in Malawi (r (50) = .273, p ≤ .05). This indicates that a contributing factor for Malawi’s lower school attendance rates among disabled persons is due to infrastructural limitations. In the United States there was a strong relationship between “discrimination of disabled persons by employers” with “access to education” (r (50) = -.503, p ≤ .001). This indicates not a physical barrier inhibiting access to education, but a social barrier. We believe that future testing should be completed on a sample that is more representative of the overall population for each country. Participants in this study had a greater amount of schooling than the average American or Malawian, and so may not best represent the overall population.

Permission Statement

This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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