Measuring Listening Effort: Convergent Validity, Sensitivity, and Links With Cognitive and Personality Measures Purpose Listening effort (LE) describes the attentional or cognitive requirements for successful listening. Despite substantial theoretical and clinical interest in LE, inconsistent operationalization makes it difficult to make generalizations across studies. The aims of this large-scale validation study were to evaluate the convergent validity and sensitivity of commonly used measures ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 19, 2018
Measuring Listening Effort: Convergent Validity, Sensitivity, and Links With Cognitive and Personality Measures
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julia F. Strand
    Department of Psychology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • Violet A. Brown
    Department of Psychology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • Madeleine B. Merchant
    Department of Psychology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • Hunter E. Brown
    Department of Psychology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • Julia Smith
    Department of Psychology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Julia Strand: jstrand@carleton.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Frederick (Erick) Gallun
    Editor-in-Chief: Frederick (Erick) Gallun×
  • Editor: Lori J. Leibold
    Editor: Lori J. Leibold×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 19, 2018
Measuring Listening Effort: Convergent Validity, Sensitivity, and Links With Cognitive and Personality Measures
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2018, Vol. 61, 1463-1486. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-17-0257
History: Received July 7, 2017 , Revised November 21, 2017 , Accepted February 6, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2018, Vol. 61, 1463-1486. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-17-0257
History: Received July 7, 2017; Revised November 21, 2017; Accepted February 6, 2018

Purpose Listening effort (LE) describes the attentional or cognitive requirements for successful listening. Despite substantial theoretical and clinical interest in LE, inconsistent operationalization makes it difficult to make generalizations across studies. The aims of this large-scale validation study were to evaluate the convergent validity and sensitivity of commonly used measures of LE and assess how scores on those tasks relate to cognitive and personality variables.

Method Young adults with normal hearing (N = 111) completed 7 tasks designed to measure LE, 5 tests of cognitive ability, and 2 personality measures.

Results Scores on some behavioral LE tasks were moderately intercorrelated but were generally not correlated with subjective and physiological measures of LE, suggesting that these tasks may not be tapping into the same underlying construct. LE measures differed in their sensitivity to changes in signal-to-noise ratio and the extent to which they correlated with cognitive and personality variables.

Conclusions Given that LE measures do not show consistent, strong intercorrelations and differ in their relationships with cognitive and personality predictors, these findings suggest caution in generalizing across studies that use different measures of LE. The results also indicate that people with greater cognitive ability appear to use their resources more efficiently, thereby diminishing the detrimental effects associated with increased background noise during language processing.

Acknowledgments
Carleton College supported this work. The authors are grateful to Janna Wennberg, Maryam Hedayati, Annie Zanger, Lucia Ray, and Sasha Mayn for helpful conversations and assistance with data collection; to Hettie Stern and Lydia Ding for their input during task selection; to Mitch Sommers for recommendations about experiment design; to Nathan Rose for guidance on cognitive measures and feedback on an earlier draft; to Laura Chihara and Andrew Poppick for statistical guidance; to Erin Picou for sharing stimulus lists for the CDT and SDT paradigms; to Gitte Keidser and Mary Rudner for sharing stimulus lists for the CSCT; to the Engle lab for providing RSpan sentences; and to Julie Neiworth for feedback on the article.
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