Exploring the relationships between perfectionism, speech-monitoring and disfluency in the speech of people who do and do not stutter
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This study investigates the hypothesis that domain-general perfectionism, as measured by the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (FMPS: Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990), is associated with hyper-vigilant speech monitoring, and with raised levels of disfluency in both normal and stuttered speech. It consists of two parts: (1) an online survey of perfectionism in people who stutter; and (2) a tongue-twister experiment conducted on people who do not stutter. The tongue-twister experiment included an auditory-masking condition which enabled an assessment of the impact of reduced speech-monitoring on participants’ disfluency rates. In the online survey both stuttering and stuttering participants’ self-ratings of difficulty speaking fluently were found to be associated with raised Concern over Mistakes and low Personal Standards FMPS subscale self-ratings. In the tongue-twister experiment, in which disfluency rates were measured directly, corresponding correlations were not found and, although participants’ disfluency rates overall were significantly reduced when auditory masking was applied, the size of the reduction was not modulated by their perfectionism ratings. It was concluded that (1) the perfectionism self-ratings provided by respondents who stutter in the online survey were likely to have reflected their attitudes and beliefs that related specifically to speaking and thus did not constitute evidence of a link between domain-general perfectionism and stuttering or disfluent speech; and (2) less vigilant monitoring improves the overall quality of speech irrespective of whether or not speakers are perfectionists. The potential clinical implications of these findings are discussed.