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The Relationship of Disturbances and Hesitations in Spontaneous Speech to Anxiety

Stanislav V. Kasl and George F. Mahl

Past work has indicated that flustered or confused speech can be classed into several distinct speech disturbance categories.   Such disturbances, occurring frequently in everyday conversation, have no conventional semantic function.  In the present study, 25 experimental and 20 control male Ss were used.  Anxiety was manipulated in an interview setting.  Under anxiety, the frequency of all speech disturbances, except the familiar "ah," showed a sizable increase.  The frequency of ah's increased strikingly in a change from normal to a telephonelike conversation.  Such change did not affect the other disturbances.  Measurement of palmar sweat revealed modest positive association with the speech disturbances.  Exploration of the relationship of the Taylor Manifest Anxiety scale to the disturbances suggested that the ah is functionally distinct from the other speech disturbances.
Kasl, S., & G. Mahl 1965 The Relationship of Disturbances and Hesitations in Spontaneous Speech to Anxiety. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1/5: 425-433.

Key points relevant to the study of filled pauses


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