Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John Wanzenried

Second Advisor

Dennis Fus

Third Advisor

Donald J. Grandgenett


This study investigated spatial behavior of nonhandicapped individuals toward physically handicapped individuals. Initial seating distance was measured between a visually impaired experimenter and nonhandicapped subjects. Subjects were from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Students completed a survey and then, one at a time, went to an adjacent room to answer some follow-up questions posed by a visually impaired confederate. Distances were measured and compared to other studies measuring handicapped/ nonhandicapped interactions. Previous research showed significant differences in distance between handicapped/ nonhandicapped interactions and nonhandicapped/nonhandicapped interactions. Greater distances were chosen when interacting with a physically handicapped individual than with a nonhandicapped person. This is an indication of discomfort or uneasiness with the stigmatized. Research on spatial behavior with the visually handicapped is limited. This study lays the groundwork for future research involving proxemic reactions to the handicapped and, specifically, the visually impaired.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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