Measurement of attitudes towards persons with AIDS: development of the Gold AIDS and related attitudes scale (ARAS)
Gold-Neil, Valerie Lou
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Thus far, research on attitudes toward persons with ADDS has demonstrated little or no attempts to assess all of the dimensions which appear to be underlying sources to these attitudes. These dimensions include both cognitive and affective sources of attitudes toward gay men and lesbians and persons with ADDS as well as attitudes toward ADDS contagion and fear of death. Scales measuring attitudes toward persons with ADDS and gay men and lesbians demonstrate numerous psychometric and theoretical problems (i.c, failure to report construct validity and reliability data). Scales measuring attitudes toward gay men and lesbians often use the term homosexual, rather than the more current language (i. e., gay men and lesbians). The purpose of this study is the development of a psychometrically sound instrument capable of quantifying variables postulated to be sources of attitudes toward persons with ADDS. The major components of this process include the generation and selection of items, factor analysis, additional validation and establishment of reliability of the research instrument. The research instrument along with a demographic questionnaire was distributed to 705 university students in three diverse geographic locations. Additionally, the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale, and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale were completed by the subjects for the purposes of validation of the research instrument. The result of the study was a 74 item scale with alpha reliabilities ranging from .74 to .97 and Spearman-Brown reliabilities ranging from .75 to .94 indicating a high degree of internal consistency. A factor analysis resulted in six factors. These factors were labeled gay and lesbian lifestyle, AIDSphobia, ADDS and sexual behavior, homophobia-lesbian, homophobia-gay, fear of death. There is also a subscale which measures knowledge of ADDS. Validation procedures included pairing the research instrument with the BSRI, the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale, and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale. Investigation of gender differences was also computed. Although it was thought that male and female subjects who more highly valued traditional sex roles (as measured on the BSRI), would be more negative in their attitudes (as measured by the research instrument) this failed to be demonstrated. As predicted by the researcher, dogmatic subjects were more negative in their attitudes toward gay men, lesbians and persons with AIDS. The results of the pairing of the Social Desirability Scale with the research instrument indicated subjects were, over all, not responding in a socially desirable manner. Men were found to be generally more negative in their attitudes than women. Additional research questions demonstrated that the higher the level of knowledge concerning ADDS, the less negative were the attitudes toward persons with ADDS. Geographic differences were found among the subjects at the three universities. Attitudes toward gay men, lesbians and persons with ADDS held by the subjects at the university in the southwest were significantly more negative than attitudes held by the subjects at the universities in the northeast and far west The result of this project is a psychometrically sound instrument which appears to have utility in the measurement of dimensions of attitudes toward persons with ADDS, as well as attitudes toward gay men and lesbians.