Chapter 2: Listening
Home Up Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Listening Chapter 5: Audience Analysis Chapter 7: Organizing Chapter 8: Delivery and Visual Resources Chapter 4: Small Group Communication Ch. 6, Being Credible Using Evidence Chapter 3: Interpersonal Communication

Human Communication

Ch. 2, Listening & Critical Thinking

I. Listening vs. Hearing

    A. Hearing: Act of receiving sound

      Passive, automatic, physiological

    B. Listening: Receiving, constructing meaning from, responding to spoken or nonverbal messages. . .

    C. Chinese characters of the verb "to listen": Ears, eyes, heart, undivided attention demonstrate the importance of listening in that society and the complexity of the concept.

II. Listening Facts

    A. How much of what we know we have learned by listening?

      85 %

    B. How much we recall immediately after hearing someone talk?


    C. How much we remember of what we hear?

      20 %

    D. Amount of us with formal listening training? Less than 2 %

    E. We listen at 125-150 wpm but think at 1,000-3,000 wpm.

    F. During lecture, 20 % are listening to professor, 12 % actively.

    G. College students spend

            53 % of time listening (21 % if FTF, 32 % is mass media)

            17 % Reading

            16 % Speaking

            14 % Writing

III. Listening Process   

    A. Attention

      1. Selective: Sustained focus to stimuli we deem important. For example, you may be bored in class but manage to hear every time the professor says "This will be on the test." Or, you may notice commercials for food when you are very hungry.

      2. Automatic: Instinctive focus to changing stimuli. For example, even if you are engrossed in watching television, you may instinctively be aroused when your baby cries.

    B. Working Memory: Interprets, assigns meaning (short-cuts;
        patterns) so that you are able to decipher the intent and tone of a
        conversation, for example.

    C. Short term memory: Temporary storage

      1. Limited to + or 7 bits of info.

      2. Limited to 20 seconds

    D. Long term memory: Permanent storage (no limits on quantity)

      1. Schema: Refers to filing systems for our thoughts.

      2. Stimulus cues: Refers to cues that help us retrieve information; can be sight, smell, etc. Smell is the strongest mnemonic device.

IV. Types of Listening

    A. Active: Involved. Refers to involved listening with a purpose.

        (1) listening carefully with the senses to verbal/nonverbal aspects of a message;
        (2) paraphrasing what is heard mentally and perhaps verbally
        (3) checking for understanding to ensure its accuracy and
        (4) providing feedback.

    B. Emphatic: Understanding. Involves listening to understand the

        Requires "mindfulness" meaning fully engaged in the moment

    C.  Enjoyment: Appreciative   

        Seeking and processing information that is fun and stimulating

    D. Critical: Analyze

         Challenging the speakers message by evaluating its accuracy, 
         meaningfulness, and utility

V. Critical Thinking: Two ways to engage in critical thinking are to analyze the situation and the message itself.

    A. Analyze speaker, the situation, speakers ideas to make critical judgments about message

      1. Analyze communication situation

          Analyze the context. For example, the "context" of a commercial is to sell you     
          products. Another example is when a president of the United States addressed the
          American people surrounded by dignitaries, federal emblems, the flag, etc. all to
          create an air of legitimacy, authority, and enhance a "presidential" image.

      2. Analyze message

    B. Message Analysis: There are several ways to analyze a message such as examining arguments and proof offered to justify arguments. Analyzing the "proofs" and finally, "deconstruction"

        1. Arguments: Propositions (statements trying to prove) &
        justifications (proof)

        2. Proofs:

      Ethos: Appeals to the credibility of the source. Refers to how likable and trustworthy the source is perceived to be.

      Pathos: Appeals to feelings and emotions.

      Logos: Appeals to logic, reasoning

        3. Deconstruction: Breaking a message down. Useful for analyzing media messages such
           as commercials, print ads, etc.

      Identify key points in the message.

      Identify the purpose of the source and message.

      Look for the implied message.

      Examine production techniques such as artwork, etc.

      Consider the comparison to reality--in other words, how realistic are the claims of the source/message.

This website is maintained by Marceline Thompson Hayes,

This page last updated August 21, 2007

Arkansas State University