Students’ Attitudes towards Peers with Disabilities: A review of the literature

Peer-reviewed article
(2012 Nov) International Journal of disability, development and education., 59 379-392


De Boer A, Pijl SJ, Minnaert A.


The trend towards inclusive education has led to an increase of studies focusing on peer attitudes. This review study presents an overview of studies describing attitudes of students, variables relating to students’ attitudes, and the relationship between students’ attitudes and the social participation of peers with disabilities. Based on a literature search we selected 20 studies that were conducted in seven different countries. Outcomes were described in terms of negative, neutral or positive according to three attitude components (cognitive, affective and behavioural). The results show that students generally hold neutral attitudes towards peers with disabilities. Several variables were found relating to their attitudes (i.e., gender, age, experience with and knowledge about disabilities, parental influence). Moreover, the results indicate that attitudes of peers relate to the social participation of students with disabilities. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of promoting positive attitudes of peers.