Leslie T. Good

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication

Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 92 pages)


Listening, Interpersonal communication




When attempting to communicate with another person, the success or failure that a communicator perceives, he or she interprets as understanding or misunderstanding. Research has shown that "perceived understanding" or the "feeling of being understood" is important in self-concept development. However, for some time researchers have focused on the listener's needs and the speaker's needs have been given less attention. Yet, the listener's role in meeting the speaker's needs, particularly in providing feedback to the speaker, is of utmost importance if the speaker is to have the "feeling of being understood." This research examined the concept of the "feeling of being listened to," as it relates to the "feeling of being understood." Eye contact, vocalics, and head nods were examined as listener behaviors that affect "perceived listening." Alone, in a private room, each subject viewed a randomly-assigned videotape, imagining him- or herself as the speaker, thus, taking the speaker's perspective. The videotape showed the listener, who responded to the speaker with none, one, or all three nonverbal behaviors being tested. Immediately after viewing the videotape, subjects completed two instruments that identified the probability of eye contact, vocalics, and head nods, as pre-conditions of "perceived listening" and "perceived listening" as a pre-condition of "perceived understanding." Tests of the first four hypotheses about the relationship between nonverbal behaviors and perceived listening were non-significant. The test of the fifth hypothesis about the correlation between perceived listening and perceived understanding was significant, but there was some indication that these two concepts may be redundant. A post-hoc analysis of the relationship between nonverbal behaviors and perceived understanding yielded nonsignificant results, supporting the concern that perceived listening and perceived understanding may be redundant concepts.


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