Is stuttering linked to social anxiety?

July 6, 2018, Flinders University

The differences – and similarities – between people with high levels of social anxiety and stutterers are being investigated by researchers at Flinders.

In the hope of find new methods of overcoming, treat and even prevent stuttering, the researchers will study whether high impacts a stutterer's rate of recovery and possible treatment relapse.

They will also examine differences in cognitive processes such as fears of criticism and fears of negative evaluation.

Research focusing on psychological aspects of stuttering is the specialisation of Alan Webb, currently doing his Psychology Honours research with Dr. Junwen Chen, senior lecturer in Psychology – and to continue this research they are now looking to recruit who stutter.

To investigate different features of in people who stutter, they will be assessing levels of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), an intense fear of scrutiny by others in than can lead to people avoiding social situations.

Individuals who stutter have a much higher risk of developing SAD than the general population due to bullying and negative peer responses that often begin in childhood, and it has been suggested that social anxiety increases the risk of relapse for adults who stutter following speech treatment due to situation avoidance.

To ensure that treatment approaches are relevant and effective for adults who stutter with SAD, Mr Webb says it is important to understand the factors that contribute to and maintain SAD in adults who stutter.

"The aim of this study is to investigate if the negative beliefs and biased cognitive processing seen in non-stuttering populations with SAD would contribute to and maintain social anxiety in adults who ," he says.

"According to the cognitive behavioural models of SAD, fear of negative and positive evaluation are core beliefs experienced by socially anxious individuals."

Initial research has been performed, but the Flinders team is making a call for further public participants in this study, which will continue throughout this year. To register your interest in participating in this study, please email

This work complements other work being done at Flinders University to build greater knowledge about stuttering.

Dr. Michelle Swift, lecturer and clinical educator in fluency disorders for the Flinders University Speech Pathology program, is currently writing an ethics application to investigate potential treatments for the psychosocial issues that can accompany school-aged stuttering. She will be calling for volunteers for this project towards the end of this year.

Explore further: Does stuttering stop children from doing more than just speaking?

Related Stories

Does stuttering stop children from doing more than just speaking?

May 29, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Dr Lisa Iverach and Professor Ron Rapee AM from the Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University, are investigating the social and emotional impact of childhood stuttering.

Babies' brains could unravel the mystery of stuttering

January 30, 2015
University of Sydney researchers are launching a world-first study to see if it's possible to detect whether a baby will go on to stutter in later life - well before they start to talk.

Stuttering related to brain circuits that control speech production

November 23, 2016
Researchers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) have conducted the first study of its kind, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to look at brain regions in both adults and children who stutter.

Brain development differs in children who stutter

October 10, 2013
(Edmonton) A new study by a University of Alberta researcher shows that children who stutter have less grey matter in key regions of the brain responsible for speech production than children who do not stutter.

Stuttering: Stop signals in the brain disturb speech flow

December 12, 2017
One per cent of adults and five per cent of children are unable to achieve what most of us take for granted—speaking fluently. Instead, they struggle with words, often repeating the beginning of a word, for example "G-g-g-g-g-ood ...

Stuttering linked to reduced blood flow in area of brain associated with language

January 4, 2017
A study led by researchers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles demonstrates what lead investigator Bradley Peterson, MD, calls "a critical mass of evidence" of a common underlying lifelong vulnerability in both children and ...

Recommended for you

Are you prone to feeling guilty? Then you're probably more trustworthy, study shows

July 19, 2018
It turns out your mother was right: guilt is a powerful motivator.

Perfectionism in young children may indicate OCD risk

July 19, 2018
Studying young children, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that kids who possess tendencies toward perfectionism and excessive self-control are twice as likely as other children to ...

Finding well-being through an aerial, as opposed to ground-level, view of time

July 19, 2018
Do today and yesterday and tomorrow loom large in your thinking, with the more distant past and future barely visible on the horizon? That's not unusual in today's time-pressed world—and it seems a recipe for angst.

Younger children tend to make more informed decisions

July 19, 2018
A new study from the University of Waterloo has found that in some ways, the older you get the worse your decision making becomes.

Using an electronic device counteracts benefits of taking a break in nature, researchers find

July 19, 2018
Being in nature helps restore your brain's ability to focus attention on a task. But if you are checking social media on your phone or answering emails on your laptop – even if you are doing so while surrounded by trees ...

Depression-induced inflammation during pregnancy may impact newborns

July 18, 2018
The physiological impacts of depression on pregnant mothers may affect babies while in the womb and lead to changes in the behaviour and biology of newborns, finds new King's College London research.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.