A comparison of three strategies for reducing the public stigma associated with stuttering

J Fluency Disord. 2016 Dec;50:44-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2016.09.004. Epub 2016 Sep 30.


Purpose: The effects of three anti-stigma strategies for stuttering-contact (hearing personal stories from an individual who stutters), education (replacing myths about stuttering with facts), and protest (condemning negative attitudes toward people who stutter)-were examined on attitudes, emotions, and behavioral intentions toward people who stutter.

Method: Two hundred and twelve adults recruited from a nationwide survey in the United States were randomly assigned to one of the three anti-stigma conditions or a control condition. Participants completed questionnaires about stereotypes, negative emotional reactions, social distance, discriminatory intentions, and empowerment regarding people who stutter prior to and after watching a video for the assigned condition, and reported their attitude changes about people who stutter. Some participants completed follow-up questionnaires on the same measures one week later.

Results: All three anti-stigma strategies were more effective than the control condition for reducing stereotypes, negative emotions, and discriminatory intentions from pretest to posttest. Education and protest effects for reducing negative stereotypes were maintained at one-week follow-up. Contact had the most positive effect for increasing affirming attitudes about people who stutter from pretest to posttest and pretest to follow-up. Participants in the contact and education groups, but not protest, self-reported significantly more positive attitude change about people who stutter as a result of watching the video compared to the control group.

Conclusion: Advocates in the field of stuttering can use education and protest strategies to reduce negative attitudes about people who stutter, and people who stutter can increase affirming attitudes through interpersonal contact with others.

Keywords: Anti-stigma programs; Empowerment; Public stigma; Stereotypes; Stuttering advocacy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Stigma*
  • Stuttering / psychology*