Strained Interaction: Evidence That Interpersonal Contact Moderates the Death-Disability Rejection Link

Shiri Ben-Naim, Gali Aviv, Gilad Hirschberger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: Our objective was to examine whether brief yet significant contact between a confederate seated in a wheelchair and a nondisabled participant may attenuate the relationship between death reminders and disability rejection found in previous research. Method: One hundred two participants were randomly assigned to a mortality salience or control condition and were then seated in a room with a confederate. In half the cases, the confederate sat in a wheelchair, and in the other half in a regular chair. Furthermore, half the participants were assigned to either a collaborative task with the confederate, or to an individual task condition. At the end of the session, participants were asked to evaluate the confederate. Results: Death primes led to a more negative evaluation of the confederate in a wheelchair in the individual task condition. However, this effect was attenuated in the collaborative task condition. Conclusions: The death-disability rejection link is not deterministic and may be attenuated through meaningful contact between people without disabilities and people with physical disabilities (PWD). The findings suggest that terror management theory is a particularly useful framework for understanding and intervening in the strained interaction between PWD and nondisabled individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-470
Number of pages7
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • attitudes towards disability
  • interpersonal contact
  • terror management


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