Making Things Easier by Making Them Harder: Can Listening at a Low Volume Improve Hearing?
CitationMusser, Anna. 2019. Making Things Easier by Making Them Harder: Can Listening at a Low Volume Improve Hearing?. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractCan listening to information at a low volume improve hearing? To test this hypothesis this experiment had undergraduate students listen to a podcast at a low volume. In addition, this study also explored expectation or priming someone to anticipate a particular outcome. The central questions of this study asked how both listening to a podcast at a low volume and expectation influenced hearing outcomes, reaction times, the comprehension of auditory information and perceived mindfulness. A secondary line of inquiry examined whether one’s perceived mindfulness is correlated with reaction times. To this end, 111 Harvard undergraduate students with no history of hearing impairment were recruited into a 2 x 2 factorial designed study, where podcast volume and expectation were the factors at play. All participants completed a Langer Mindfulness Scale and a hearing test before being placed into one of four conditions: condition 1, participants listened to a podcast at a regular volume and were told they could expect their hearing to improve, condition 2, participants listened to a podcast at a regular volume, condition 3, participants listened to a podcast at a low volume and were told that they could expect their hearing to improve, and condition 4, participants listened to a podcast at a low volume. Participants then completed a second Langer Mindfulness Scale and hearing test, as well as a visual reaction time test, an auditory reaction time test and a quiz designed to test participants’ comprehension of the podcast material.
This study found that found that that participants that listened to podcasts at a low volume would experience improvements in their posttest hearing test scores. Additionally, being within an expectation group was significantly associated with better scores on hearing tests. It should be noted that this study presupposed that listening to podcasts at a lower volume level will allow participants to mindfully notice change. Due to the fact that other mindfulness interventions have produced positive changes in auditory processing (Langer, 2009) this study’s results may give further credence to the notion that engaging in mindfulness can positively impact sensory processing. In light of these results it may be prudent to explore whether listening to information at a low volume can improve the hearing of those who live with mild to moderate hearing impairment.
Conversely, based on the analysis of this thesis the podcast volume and expectation were not significantly correlated with reaction times or perceived mindfulness. Similarly, perceived mindfulness was not significantly correlated with reaction times. Lastly, the comprehension assessment used to evaluate the comprehension of podcast material proved to be too easy. As a result, a ceiling effect was observed and thus whether listening to podcasts at a low volume impacts comprehension remains unknown.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42006725