Emotional diathesis, emotional stress, and childhood stuttering

Dahye Choi, Edward G. Conture, Tedra A. Walden, Robin M. Jones, Hanjoe Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine (a) whether emotional reactivity and emotional stress of children who stutter (CWS) are associated with their stuttering frequency, (b) when the relationship between emotional reactivity and stuttering frequency is more likely to exist, and (c) how these associations are mediated by a 3rd variable (e.g., sympathetic arousal). Method: Participants were 47 young CWS (M age = 50.69 months, SD = 10.34). Measurement of participants’ emotional reactivity was based on parental report, and emotional stress was engendered by viewing baseline, positive, and negative emotion-inducing video clips, with stuttered disfluencies and sympathetic arousal (indexed by tonic skin conductance level) measured during a narrative after viewing each of the various video clips. Results: CWS’s positive emotional reactivity was positively associated with percentage of their stuttered disfluencies regardless of emotional stress condition. CWS’s negative emotional reactivity was more positively correlated with percentage of stuttered disfluencies during a narrative after a positive, compared with baseline, emotional stress condition. CWS’s sympathetic arousal did not appear to mediate the effect of emotional reactivity, emotional stress condition, and their interaction on percentage of stuttered disfluencies, at least during this experimental narrative task following emotion-inducing video clips. Conclusions: Results were taken to suggest an association between young CWS’s positive emotional reactivity and stuttering, with negative reactivity seemingly more associated with these children’s stuttering during positive emotional stress (a stress condition possibly associated with lesser degrees of emotion regulation). Such findings seem to support the notion that emotional processes warrant inclusion in any truly comprehensive account of childhood stuttering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-630
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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