Macquarie University
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Communication difficulty and effort in conversation

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:44 authored by Timothy Andrew Beechey
1. Introduction -- 2. Measuring communication difficulty through effortful speech production during conversation -- 3. Eliciting naturalistic conversations: a method for assessing communication ability, subjective experience and the impacts of noise and hearing impairment -- 4. Hearing impairment increases communication effort during conversations in noise -- 5. Hearing aid amplification reduces communication effort of people with hearing impairment and their conversation partners -- 6. Discussion, implications, and future directions.


Table of Contents

Among the most important goals of hearing rehabilitation is the restoration of a hearing-impaired individual's capacity to take part in hearing tasks that form part of everyday life. This dissertation investigates the use of a new methodology for assessing the impacts of both hearing impairment and environmental noise on communication during spoken conversation. In order to balance the needs of ecological validity and experimental control, a tool for eliciting naturalistic conversations was designed and employed in conjunction with a set of highly realistic noise recordings. The development of this new approach to assessing communication effort is motivated by (i) the increasing recognition within hearing science that existing clinical and research measures may not adequately predict real-world hearing disability and hearing device benefit; and (ii) the increasing focus within the field on ecological validity and realistic assessment methods. A number of factors not typically considered in terms of ecological validity were considered. These include an emphasis on the importance of realistic tasks and the inherently interactive nature of spoken conversation. The extent to which tests of speech perception and hearing aid benefit approximate the real-life tasks people wish to accomplish and the cognitive demands of these tasks determines how accurately audiologists may measure hearing disability and predict real-world hearing device benefit and satisfaction. A study of conversation between young normal-hearing adults investigated the feasibility of using acoustic-phonetic measures of vocal effort to quantify the impacts of noise on communication difficulty. This was followed by an analysis of the naturalness of verbal behaviour elicited using these methods. Further, the subjective experience of participants during conversation was considered, including levels of engagement, and judgment of the difficulty and relevance of experimental conditions to real-life communication. A reduced set of acoustic-phonetic measures was employed to investigate the effects of age-related hearing impairment on conversational interaction and the novel concept of communication effort was proposed. Finally, the effect of hearing aid amplification on communication effort was investigated in terms of functional hearing disability and third-party disability experienced by communication .......[See attached thesis files for full TOC].


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 143-159

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Human Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jörg M. Buchholz

Additional Supervisor 1

Gitte Keidser


Copyright Timothy Andrew Beechey 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




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