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A little bit more the same than yesterday: A mixed methods exploration of choir member empathy and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities

Lynda A. Ewell Laird, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the effect of self-reported contact with individuals with disabilities on choir member empathy and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. Further, this study investigated effects of an inclusive choral music experience on empathy and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. Finally, the study explored expectations, experiences, perceptions, and beliefs of six individuals who participated in an inclusive choral music experience. ^ Phase I (n=207) addressed the effect of level of contact with individuals with disabilities on choral members’ empathy and attitudes toward people with disabilities, and relationships between empathy and attitudes. A significant difference was found at the .05 level of significance for participants with a high level of contact with individuals with disabilities on empathic concern (M=4.08, SD=.54) compared with participants with a low level of contact (M=3.81, SD=.64), t(203) = −2.153, p < .033. No significant differences were found for any attitude subscales. Bivariate correlations revealed three significant relationships between empathy and attitudes subscales: 1) empathic concern and cognitive attitudes (Pearson’s r = .254), 2) personal distress and affective attitudes (r=−.186), and personal distress and behavioral attitudes (r=−.154). ^ Phase II (n=15) hypotheses were investigated for choral members’ empathy and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities before and after an inclusive choral music experience. There were no statistically significant differences between pre-test and post-test means on any empathy or attitudes subscales. ^ In Phase III, qualitative interviews were used to explore the experiences of six individuals who participated in the inclusive choral music experience. Qualitative analysis revealed themes that include: expectations for limited social interactions, presumptions regarding music skills and music quality, perceptions about structure and modes of inclusive music learning, reflections about artistic experience and relationships formed, and revelations about beliefs toward people with disabilities. ^ …just knowing one person kind of changes your whole opinion about everyone. And that gets more vast. You go out into the world and you see people that are more marginalized, and you do feel like we are a little bit more the same than yesterday. ^

Subject Area

Music|Social psychology|Music education

Recommended Citation

Laird, Lynda A. Ewell, "A little bit more the same than yesterday: A mixed methods exploration of choir member empathy and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10103359.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI10103359

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