The prototypical stereotype: perceptions of functioning when categorized as intellectually disabled

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University of Alabama Libraries

The issue of culpability for individuals who have intellectual disability (ID) was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 2002. In the majority opinion, the justices stated that the execution of an individual who has ID violated the Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment (Atkins v. Virginia, 2002, 536 U.S. 304). The key to being able to apply this law in a fair and just manner is to be able to accurately identify the individuals to whom the law applies. Review of case law suggests that common misconceptions regarding ID are creeping into the courtroom and may be influencing decisions in Atkins cases. The purpose of the current study was to identify the prototype for ID and investigate the impact of the capital context regarding the functional capabilities of individuals with ID. Results indicated that scores on adaptive behavior measures are heavily dependent on which measure is administered. In addition, the capital context was only relevant in two conditions on one of the measures. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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