Personal Perceptions and Perceived Public Opinion about Stuttering in the United States: Implications for Anti-Stigma Campaigns

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Purpose: This exploratory study was the first to obtain quantitative and qualitative data on both personal perceptions and perceived public opinion about stuttering in order to identify topics to include in anti-stigma programs for stuttering. Method: Three-hundred ten adults in the United States completed a web survey that assessed knowledge about stuttering and attitudes toward people who stutter (PWS) with questions addressing personal perceptions (direct questions) and perceived public opinion (indirect questions). Results: Many participants reported favorable personal perceptions of PWS regarding their intelligence, competence, and potential for success. However, most participants did not personally believe PWS were confident, and most believed they were shy. Perceived public opinion was more unfavorable as a majority agreed that the public is uncomfortable talking with PWS and that the public would recommend PWS avoid jobs requiring high speech demands and avoid talking to large audiences. A minority of participants agreed PWS are perceived publicly as capable or mentally healthy. Conclusions: The survey demonstrated misunderstandings and negative perceptions of PWS, especially when measured with perceived public opinion. Results can increase our understanding of content areas that should be included in anti-stigma programs for stuttering and highlight different methods for analyzing public perceptions of stuttering.



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