Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Hope Gerlach-Houck Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Laura DeThorne Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jesse Smith Ph.D.


Authenticity, concealment, identity, mental health, society, stuttering

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


In an effort to manage stigma, some PWS attempt to conceal stuttering and pass as a fluent speaker (Constantino et al., 2017). These efforts to conceal may be counterintuitive, as concealment of stuttering is predictive of elevated distress (Gerlach et al., 2021) and decreased quality of life among PWS (Boyle et. al., 2018). Although this association exists, the factors explaining how and why it exists are unexplored. Identity conflict and feelings of in/authenticity are two potential factors that are explored in this study. Qualitative interviewing supplemented with quantitative survey data is utilized to explore the lived experiences of identity conflict and in/authenticity among participants. Reflexive Thematic Analysis is used to analyze interview data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results show that participants experience identity conflict as; 1) conflict resulting from discordance between the stuttering identity and ideal personal and professional identities, and 2) conflict from a mismatch between how adults who stutter perceive themselves and how others perceive them. Each type is fueled by stigma to an extent and is described to negatively impact quality of life. In terms of in/authenticity, participants express that concealment promotes feelings of inauthenticity and openness promotes feelings of authenticity. Environmental factors, including threat, familiarity, and acceptance, also play a role in participants' willingness to express themselves authentically. Because this was a preliminary study with a small sample, more research is needed to understand what role, if any, identity conflict and in/authenticity play in mental health among adults who stutter.