New Study Explains Why Hearing Loss is So Exhausting

Living with hearing loss is exhausting. So are Zoom calls. It turns out, the two are related. In my recent article for Hearing Tracker I discuss the findings of a new study on Zoom fatigue. The reasons that make conversing over Zoom so tiring are similar to what makes everyday conversation hard work for people with hearing loss. An excerpt from my article is below. To read the full post click here

Conversation Fatigue Nothing New For People with Hearing Loss

Do you get Zoom fatigue — that feeling of utter exhaustion after a long day of video conference calls? I certainly do. Well, it turns out everyone else does too — hearing loss or not. A recent article published in Technology, Mind and Behavior explains the reasons why. It felt a bit like deja vu when reading it. Two of the four reasons describe the normal state of play for a person with hearing loss. Constant and continual visual attention is nothing new for us — it’s how we hear!

Research Explains Psychological Reasons for Zoom Fatigue

The study, conducted by Stanford University Professor Jeremy Bailenson, examined the psychological impact of spending so many hours each day in video chats. He identified four factors that contribute to Zoom fatigue. The study also offered suggestions for how consumers and organizations can mitigate them.

The four factors include:

  1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact
  2. High levels of cognitive load to interpret and create non-verbal cues
  3. The stress of looking at yourself all day
  4. Reduced mobility that come with video chats

The first two are a just a regular part of everyday conversation for someone with hearing loss.

1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact

In a Zoom meeting, participants spend the entire time looking intently at one another. Even when you are not speaking, it feels as if all eyes are on you, and vice versa. When someone else is speaking, you see them up close and personally, without any meaningful breaks. This is not typical, but for people with hearing loss, sustained vigilance to the person speaking is the norm. This unwavering attention is exhausting — on Zoom and in person — hence the hearing loss exhaustion we often feel at the long day of active listening.

2. High levels of cognitive load to interpret and create non-verbal cues

Speechreading is all about nonverbal communication. The slight twitch at the corner of the mouth can indicate humor or tension in the forehead can mean distress. People with hearing loss are constantly attending to these subtle details to help them communicate. This is our norm. But for hearing people, according to the study, nonverbal cues don’t require much conscious attention. The additional cognitive load associated with attending to these nonverbal cues can be exhausting on Zoom. Yet this is all in a day’s work for people with hearing loss.

Read the full article on Hearing Tracker.

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4 thoughts on “New Study Explains Why Hearing Loss is So Exhausting

  1. Why not hide self view if looking at yourself all day bothersome? Others would continue to see you. Perhaps our situations are different, but I find it easy to ignore myself. Am I missing something?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for sharing what works for you.

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