Comparative study on conversation tactics


© Andre Yutzu - Sxc

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Greenwich (London, UK) recently carried out a study aimed at investigating the tactics people use when verbal communication fails because of environmental circumstances or impaired hearing.

Conversation tactics were considered to be gestures, speech reading, and use of other visual and contextual cues. The study’s objective was to compare the behavior of individuals with allegedly normal hearing with that of people with hearing impairment.

A sample of 188 participants, with degrees of hearing impairment ranging from absent to severe, were asked to complete an online questionnaire based on a conversation checklist. The checklist items related to any situation in which there was failure to hear or understand what was being said. Proposed behaviors were grouped into factors including disengagement, optimization of speech reading cues, optimization of speech volume, anticipation and mitigation of difficulties, context reading, and message confirmation.

The researchers found that there was a very strong overlap between the types of tactics employed by people with normal hearing and those with hearing impairment. Asking a talker to say something in a different way or to repeat, or repeating back what the listener thinks was said, were very common strategies employed. The only tactic found to be associated with level of hearing impairment was visual speech reading. The team believes that the assessment approach they adopted could be used for instance in rehabilitation, to identify unhelpful tactics used by the hearing impaired or their partners.

Source: International Journal of Audiology