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EFFECT OF SILENCE ON STUTTERING



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Journal of Abnormal Psychology 1967 Vol 72 No 5 441 445 EFFECT OF SILENCE ON STUTTERING EDWARD GOULD AND JOSEPH SHEEHAN University of California Los Angeles Since fear of silence is a striking feature of stuttering this study investigated the effect of experimentally imposed silence 24 adult stutterers read 4 passages aloud S times each under 3 conditions of imposed silence introduced following the 2nd reading and under 1 control condition They then ranked these situations as to their evoked discomfort Unexplained Silence Explained Silence and Private Silence were compared with a control condition of No Silence Findings were that all silences together produced significantly greater frequency of stuttering than control readings with no differences among the 3 silence conditions on this dimension However Unexplained Silence was ranked highest in discomfort Results were discussed in terms of a conflict approach to stuttering with particular emphasis on role theory studied by Chappie 1953 who suggested such a technique in his work on the stress interview Although Chappie dealt with normal speakers silence should induce even more discomfort in stutterers By virtue of sharing a common maladaptive behavior with high social visibility stutterers have accumulated a number of similar experiences in the area of speech For them speech has become associated with shame fear failure humiliation and other negative emotional content Sheehan 1958 Similarly certain conditions of silence in communicative settings have become overlaid with these negative feelings In response to the pressures of silence stutterers should experience both greater subjective discomfort and an observable increase in the frequency of stuttering In order to state more specific hypotheses motivating this study it is necessary at this point to enumerate the experimental conditions 1 Unexplained Silence A The stutterer was interrupted in his reading and made to endure 5 min of silence without explanation in the



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