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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Personal Disability Identity Measurement: Self-Worth and Personal Meaning

  • Author(s): Zapata, Mercedes
  • Advisor(s): Worrell, Frank
  • et al.

In this study, I examined validity evidence for a new disability identity scale, Personal Disability Identity Scale–Self-Worth and Meaning, in a sample of 525 adults with visual impairment (VI) or blindness. Personal disability identity (PDI) refers to feelings about having a disability as well as incorporation of disability status into overall self-concept (Dunn & Burcaw, 2013). Pre-existing measures of PDI (Darling & Heckert, 2010; Hahn & Belt, 2004) operationalize three factors of the PDI concept (i.e., Affirmation, Denial, Pride), which has been theorized to encompass more domains (Dunn & Burcaw, 2013; Forber-Pratt, Lyew, Samples, & Mueller, 2017). The Self-Worth and Meaning subscales were intended to capture previously unexplored PDI domains, including self-worth as a person with a disability (Putnam, 2005) and personal meaning found in the experience of disability (Dunn & Burcaw, 2013). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported the structural validity of Self-Worth and Meaning scores as well as an overarching four-factor structure of PDI scores composed of Pride/Affirmation, Acceptance (versus Denial), Self-Worth, and Positive Personal Meaning (i.e., Meaning). Correlational analyses between Self-Worth, Meaning, and existing PDI measures supported the convergent and divergent validity of Self-Worth and Meaning scores. Further correlational analyses between Self-Worth and Meaning subscales and indicators of well-being (i.e., satisfaction with life, anxiety/depression) offered support for the external validity of Self-Worth and Meaning. This dissertation contributes to the literature on disability identity by offering an expanded empirical model of PDI as well as a new PDI measure that is derived from models of disability identity that had not been explored empirically (Dunn & Burcaw, 2013; Putnam, 2005).

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