Exploring gaze behaviours toward videos of physically active individuals with a physical or intellectual disability


Having a disability can elicit ostracizing behaviours from others, such as staring. Research grounded in the stereotype content model (SCM) suggests that depicting people with physical disabilities (PD) as physically active may improve how they are perceived and treated. Specifically, able-bodied adults gazed less at images of individuals with PD when they were shown engaging in physical activity (PA) versus sedentary. However, the influence of PA information on gaze behaviour toward individuals with other disability types remains unknown. The present study compared gaze behaviours toward videos of people with intellectual disabilities (ID), PD, and no disability depicted as physically active or sedentary. A secondary objective was to assess the features participants gazed at. Thirty adults (males=11) without disabilities (Mage=22.13±3.28 years) viewed six, 30-second videos of people with ID, PD, and no disability performing bicep curls (active) or watching television (sedentary). Eye movements were recorded during each video. Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed statistically significant main effects of ability and activity conditions on gaze behaviour. Participants gazed most at individuals with ID and least at individuals without disabilities, with greater gaze behaviours directed toward those who were active versus sedentary. Greater gaze behaviours were directed toward the body in the active versus sedentary condition. Findings support the SCM assumptions regarding the effect of disability type on gaze behaviour, but challenge the assumptions regarding the effect of activity status. This research provides novel insight into the gaze people with different disabilities receive from onlookers, and the influence of PA on these gaze patterns.