Effort and Displeasure in People Who Are Hard of Hearing

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Abstract

Listening effort helps explain why people who are hard of hearing are prone to fatigue and social withdrawal. However, a one-factor model that cites only effort due to hardness of hearing is insufficient as there are many who lead happy lives despite their disability. This article explores other contributory factors, in particular motivational arousal and pleasure. The theory of rational motivational arousal predicts that some people forego listening comprehension because they believe it to be impossible and hence worth no effort at all. This is problematic. Why should the listening task be rated this way, given the availability of aids that reduce its difficulty? Two additional factors narrow the explanatory gap. First, we separate the listening task from the benefit derived as a consequence. The latter is temporally more distant, and is discounted as a result. The second factor is displeasure attributed to the listening task, which increases listening cost. Many who are hard of hearing enjoy social interaction. In such cases, the actual activity of listening is a benefit, not a cost. These people also reap the benefits of listening, but do not have to balance these against the displeasure of the task. It is suggested that if motivational harmony can be induced by training in somebody who is hard of hearing, then the obstacle to motivational arousal would be removed. This suggests a modified goal for health care professionals. Do not just teach those who are hard of hearing how to use hearing assistance devices. Teach them how to do so with pleasure and enjoyment.

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