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COLLEGE STUDENTS' PERCEPTION OF AIDS VICTIMS

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Male and female college students (N=60) provided baseline ratings on the appearance, personality and characteristics of a male target projected on a screen. Afterwards, subjects read one of five scenarios, four of which identified the target person as contacting the AIDS disease by one of the following means: homosexual contact. heterosexual contact, intravenous drug use, or a blood transfusion. A fifth control scenario identifying the target as having an unspecified genetic deteriorating disease. Following presentation of scenarios, again subjects rated the target (Non-deteriorated Condition) as well as after viewing the male model cosmetically doctored to appear near death (Near Death Condition). Results indicated that in the non-deterioration condition, targets who contracting the AIDS disease via sexual encounters or illicit drug injection (internal causes) were perceived to be less trustworthy, less moral, and less desirable as a prospective friend than the target described as contracting the disease from a blood transfusion (external cause) A “sympathy effect” did not occur when victims physically deteriorated, as predicted, and even the blood transfusion AIDS victim came to be socially rejected in the near death condition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1989-01-01

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