Communication Disorders Ph.D. Dissertations


Exploring Attitudes toward People Who Stutter: A Mixed Model Approach

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Disorders/Speech-Language Pathology

First Advisor

Rodney Gabel (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Roger Colcord (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Jefferson Holcomb (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Larry Small (Committee Member)


The purpose of this study was to examine university students' attitudes toward people who stutter (PWS). A mixed model design explored the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that fluent speakers report when considering their interactions with PWS. 150 university students responded to a 9-item, open-ended survey. Their responses were analyzed thematically to explore participants' perceptions regarding (a) descriptions of PWS and why these descriptions are appropriate, (b) the causes of stuttering, (c) difficulties associated with being a person who stutters, and (d) important considerations or facilitative techniques when interacting with PWS. The themes derived from participants' responses to the survey questions were also analyzed quantitatively to examine group differences according to gender and level of familiarity with PWS.

The results indicate that participants gave as many positive descriptions as negative descriptions of PWS and were able to provide a rationale for their responses. The causes of stuttering were generally considered to be neurophysiological, genetic, or psychological in nature. Stuttering was perceived as having adverse social, academic, and vocational effects on the lives of PWS. There were no significant differences for any of the survey questions on the basis of participants' gender or level of familiarity with PWS. The implications of these findings for fluent speakers, PWS, and speech-language pathologists are discussed.