Departmental Papers (ASC)

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Journal Article

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Publication Source

American Journal of Mental Deficiency





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This paper is the third in a series in which the social behavior of mentally disabled clients in community facilities was examined. In this report, social choice for various cognitive and physical characteristics and for exposure to others was investigated in five settings. Preferences were inferred from observed affiliation, self reports, and staff judgments. Clients tended to prefer peers whom they had more exposure to, same-sex peers, and peers of similar attractiveness. Opposite-sex relationships were also common and were stronger for women. Neither similarity nor complementarity choice was obtained for age or the desire for affiliation; however, retarded clients tended to be segregated from mentally ill clients. Although clients tended to name friends of similar intellect, a form of "limited complementarity" appeared to govern observed affiliation preferences in that clients preferred to affiliate with peers who were somewhat different in IQ. This result suggests that clients of relatively moderate intelligence are critical to the social integration of a setting, since they are most likely to form relationships with clients of both higher and lower intelligence. The implications of these results for the sociability of a setting were discussed.


At the time of publication, author Daniel Romer was affiliated with the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle. Currently, he is the Research Director at the Institute for Adolescent Risk Communication at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania.

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Date Posted: 11 July 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.