Thomas Dirth

M.A. Social Psychology (2011) University of Northern Iowa
B.A. Psychology (2009) Wartburg College
Primary office:


Research Lab: Branscombe Lab
Advisor: Dr. Nyla Branscombe
Research Interests: My research interests broadly encompass the social psychology of disability. Following from a Disability Studies perspective, I approach disability (and ability) as social, political, and cultural phenomena rather than an individualizing stigma. Working with Dr. Nyla Branscombe I examine the effects of social representations of disability (e.g. medical vs. social model) on able-bodied person's perceptions of disability, specifically their views on pro-disability policy support. Similarly I investigate how "diversity" representations at institutions of higher education include/exclude disability in their representations and the consequences such representations have on able-bodied students perceptions of disability on campus. I also investigate the factors that affect people with disabilities' positive identification with the Disabled minority group, including possible cues in the environment that communicate identity threat to people with disabilities. Closely related, I examine the connection between popular notions of diversity and their inclusion/exclusion of disability. Finally, following a critical psychological perspective, I work to problematize taken-for-granted notions of ability and to uncover the underlying assumptions psychology makes in able-bodiedness(mindedness) that result in privileging some bodies and minds and pathologizing others.   

Interests:
Disability studies
Disability identification 
Social representations of disability
Diversity science 
Critical psychology


Representative Presentations:

Dirth, T. P. (2014, Sept.) Enabled by disablement: The costs of sustaining Neoliberal values. Disability Studies Seminar Series, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Dirth, T. P. (2014, June). Decolonizing Ableist epistemologies within mainstream psychological science. Symposium presentation at the annual Society for Disability Studies conference, Minneapolis, MN.

Dirth, T. P. & Harton, H. C. (2011, May). Not giving back: Testing the social exchange concern hypothesis of physical disability stigma. Oral presentation at the annual Midwestern Psychological Association conference, Chicago.

Dirth, T. P., Ribich, F. R., & Harton, H. C. (2010, May). Teaching diversity: Does college curriculum influence students’ beliefs about diversity? Oral presentation at the annual Midwestern Psychological Association conference, Chicago.

 

Representative Posters:

Dirth, T. P. & Branscombe, N. R. (2015, June). On the social psychological consequences of social representations of disability. Poster presentation at the annual Society for Disability Studies conference, Atlanta, GA.

Dirth, T. P. & Branscombe, N. R. (2014, May). Threat or reassurance? Disability pride as perceived by the  nondisabled. Poster presented at the annual Midwestern Psychological Association conference, Chicago.

Dirth, T. P. & Branscombe, N. R. (2014, February). Losing the future: Why younger victims evoke more distress. Poster presented at the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, Austin, TX


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