Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Rachel Huber



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication Sciences & Disorders

Committee Chair

Jani Johnson

Committee Member


Committee Member

Moncrieff, Lynda

Committee Member


Committee Member

Meredith Ray


ABSTRACT While amplification is the most prevalent treatment for mild to moderately severe hearing loss, many individuals with hearing loss report discomfort with amplified sounds. Despite attempts to resolve these issues with digital sound processing, adverse effects continue to be reported. It is possible these adverse effects are due to sound sensitivity rather than over amplification. Sound sensitivity has been found to relate to personality traits, emotionality, anxiety, depression, and self-reported hearing disability. One way to evaluate sound sensitivities is to explore how individuals accept sound. Sound acceptability is a holistic construct that attempts to evaluate a sound’s aversiveness, pleasantness, annoyance, and other factors. Relationships between personality traits and emotional reactivity and their possible impact on sound acceptability have not been explored. Therefore, a survey study with 53 adults aged 18 to 30 was conducted to evaluate if those with more negative personality traits and emotionality would report less sound acceptability. Results suggested that those with higher negative emotionality and lower agreeableness in their personality reported less acceptability of everyday sounds. The implications of these relationships are discussed. The factors individuals consider when judging sound acceptability have also not been evaluated previously. It was hypothesized that individuals would consider loudness, duration, and pitch to judge sound acceptability. A study using multi-dimensional scaling was completed with 53 adults aged 18 to 30 to further understand the individual perceptions of the acceptability of everyday sounds. Spatial plots of the resulting data suggested that individuals did in fact consider loudness, although the duration component was more complicated to evaluate. Implications of these findings are discussed. Reduced dichotic listening ability also results in adverse listening outcomes. Yet, the relationship between dichotic listening and sound sensitivity has not been explored. It was hypothesized that those with poorer dichotic listening ability would have more sound sensitivity than those with normal dichotic listening abilities. The final study examined this hypothesis in a group of 36 adults aged 65-79 years old through a cross-sectional survey. The survey evaluated measures of personality, emotional reactivity, anxiety/depression, cognitive ability, sound sensitivity, and dichotic listening ability. Relationships between anxiety/depression, dichotic listening, and sound sensitivity were evaluated. There was a significant relationship between poorer dichotic listening and increased sound sensitivity. However, this effect was fully mediated by anxiety/depression, suggesting that those with poorer dichotic listening ability are likely to have higher anxiety/depression, which results in more sound sensitivity. This may affect clinical outcomes with amplification for this population. Implications of these results are discussed.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access