Cultural Perceptions

Hi, my name is Anne Dvorsky and I am currently in a graduate program for Communication Disorders.  I am curious to know more about cultural perceptions of people who stutter in other countries besides the United States.  I am also interested if anyone has traveled to other countries and noticed any different perceptions about stuttering?  Thank you.

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Cultural Perceptions — 4 Comments

  1. Hi Anne,

    I have always found this text from Starkweather (1987) very interesting ‘Polynesians’ more tolerant attitude to stuttering with low incidence contrasting to Japanese where stuttering is seen as something to be cured or corrected. The incidence is higher in Japan’.
    Also, Shapiro (2011:22) notes that ‘according to Silverman (1996) one way to gain an insight into how stutterers are viewed in a particular culture is to observe how they are portrayed in the arts and literature. Benecken (1995) reviewed 19 movies, 23 novels and 13 children’s books. Results indicated that people who stutter are portrayed as unattractive males, neurotic or even psychopathologic, and in subordinate roles. Somewhat contrasting perspective, Anderson (1995) reviewed historical perceptions of stuttering as reflected in the arts, specifically films, operas, and novels: ‘Character is comic but not idiotic’. In the Commedia del Arte late 16th century Italian improvised comedy, the stuttering lawyer Tartaglia was witty. In 1891 we find in literature Billy Budd who was a hero. According to Anderson they did not depict people who stutter as members of some underclass but they are a lawyer, a trusted advisor to an aristocrat, a humble but well loved sailer, and also a respected musician.
    However, it is Prof Kenneth O. St Louis who has been running outstanding international studies in the field of perception and stuttering/ cluttering.

    Joseph Agius

  2. Joseph Agius,
    Thank you so much for the reply, it is very informative. I thought that was a good point about the perception of people who stutter on how they are perceived in the media.

  3. Dear Anne,

    First, I thank Joseph for the kind words.

    Yes, I developed the Public Opinion Survey of Human Attributes-Stuttering (POSHA-S), which is intended to be be a standard measure of public attitudes (perceptions, beliefs, reactions, knowledge, etc.) about stuttering around the world. My website is To date it I have in the growing database from shared results attitudes of nearly 12,000 respondents from 37 countries in 23 languages. Nearly 200 samples have been analyzed (some pre and post treatments of various kinds), and provide a kind of “standard” against which attitudes can be compared. A very short and incomplete answer to your question is that, yes, there are differences in public attitudes in different regions and samples around the world, but similarities seem so far to outweigh differences. SLP attitudes and those of stutterers are better than the general public, but teachers’ attitudes are strikingly similar to–or even slightly worse–than “average” people on the street.

    In 2013, I hosted the first ever international symposium on stuttering attitude research in Morgantown, West Virginia. Most of the presentations at that symposium have been extensively re-written, peer-reviewed, and edited for a book that is currently in production at WVU Press entitled, “Stuttering Meets Stereotype, Stigma, and Discrimination: An Overview of Attitude Research.” I believe that this book will be a “must read” for people, perhaps like yourself, who intend to explore this issue further.

    I hope this helps.

    Ken St. Louis

  4. Ken St. Louis,
    Thank your for your reply. I checked out your website and started making requests through my library to obtain some different articles. I look forward to the publication of the book.