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Attitudes Towards Special Olympics Athletes

The Role of motionball in Promoting Positive Attitudes Towards People with Intellectual Disabilities

What’s this project about?

An important part of the Special Olympics (SO) mission is to address barriers to inclusion through sport. The attitudes that people hold toward intellectual disability (ID) can be one of these barriers. It is, therefore, important to identify ways of improving attitudes towards people with intellectual disability. There is some research to show that contact with people with intellectual disability is related to more positive perceptions of individuals with intellectual disability. A Canadian organization called motionball works to bring Special Olympic athletes and people without intellectual disability together to participate in integrated sport events. Research has yet to look at the role of motionball, and more specifically integrated sport participation, in promoting positive attitudes towards individuals with intellectual disability. This study examined whether people who had participated in motionball events differed in their attitudes towards individuals with intellectual disability compared to peers who had not had contact with motionball or SO.

How did we go about doing this project?

Individuals who had participated in motionball events and a matched control group were asked to complete an online survey measuring attitudes towards intellectual disability, along with prior contact with and knowledge about intellectual disability, demographic information, and social desirability.

What did we do with our research findings?

Through collaboration with the motionball organization, findings from this study provided descriptive information regarding who is currently taking part in events, and aided in establishing a foundational understanding of how meaningful contact with SO athletes can influence attitudes towards people with intellectual disability. The study served as a first step to more elaborate research questions that examine the role of integrated sport participation in attitude change, and whether attitude change positively influences individual functioning for individuals with intellectual disability. Empirical evidence indicating pathways amongst individual and interpersonal factors might help inform methods for enhancing the motionball program to further promote positive public attitudes and increase meaningful contact with individuals with intellectual disability. An article summarizing our findings has been written and submitted to an academic journal.


Want to know more about this project?

For more information, please feel free to contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Jonathan Weiss at

This project is funded by Special Olympics Canada.