An exploratory study of what people with intellectual disabilities find attractive about romantic partners and how they perceive themselves as romantic partners

Donnachie, Madeline (2017) An exploratory study of what people with intellectual disabilities find attractive about romantic partners and how they perceive themselves as romantic partners. D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background: Whilst romantic or sexual attraction is a major research topic in the general population, little is known about people with intellectual disabilities’ views of attractiveness. Research exploring desirable romantic partner traits has indicated that people with intellectual disabilities appeared to hold less conventional views of physical attraction. This research explored what people with intellectual disabilities found attractive in others, as well as whether they thought other people found them desirable.
Method: Twenty-nine adults with intellectual disabilities and twenty-nine adults without intellectual disabilities, all aged between 16 and 40 years old, were recruited from Further Education institutions and voluntary community organisations across Central and West Scotland. Depending on their sexual orientation, participants were shown 50 images of men or women’s faces and asked to rate how attractive they thought the faces were. A semi-structured interview explored participants’ reasons for their highest and lowest ratings, their views of themselves as desirable to others and what they thought were important qualities in a romantic partner.
Results: A strong association was found between what men and women with intellectual disabilities and those without intellectual disabilities considered attractive in romantic partners. With regards to self-perceived desirability as a romantic partner people with intellectual disabilities were more likely to consider themselves desirable or attractive to others compared to their non-disabled peers.
Conclusions: Consideration should be given to how people with intellectual disabilities’ self-perceptions may influence their dating preferences and relationship development. Speaking to people with intellectual disabilities openly about attraction and desirability could provide an opportunity to explore who they view as possible partners and to find ways to help individuals develop relationships. Limitations of the study and ideas for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (D Clin Psy)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: intellectual disabilities, attraction, romantic partner, intimate relationships.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Jahoda, Professor Andrew
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Madeline Donnachie
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8422
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2017 14:53
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2018 14:40

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