Listening is a multidimensional construct, and its processes and effects have been studied by various disciplines. One challenge to studying listening is that the processes involved in listening are primarily cognitive, yet listening is perceived behaviorally (L. Janusik, 2007; Witkin, 1990). This fact has caused many to study cognition and behavior associated with listening as separate phenomena. Indeed, integrative research in listening is rare (see Bodie, Worthington, Imhof, & Cooper, in press). Another challenge facing future theorizing about listening is that work relevant to building general models of listening is spread out among several discipline-specific literatures. Although reviews of this literature exist (Bodie et al., in press; Wolvin, in press; Wolvin, Halone, & Coakley, 1999), the assumptions underlying different theoretical perspectives are often obfuscated or ignored. In order to advance (and possibly unify) our field we need to develop and integrate perspectives that allow for a fuller investigation of listening and its importance to everyday human interaction.
This white paper outlines four initiatives and their underlying research questions that serve to advance the study and theorizing of listening. We hope the contents of this document will strike a chord in others so that collective work toward advancing our knowledge of listening can be accomplished. In service of this goal, the document begins by providing a background of two meetings, both of which focused on honing what needs to be known about listening to develop solid listening theory. After this background is provided, the initiatives and research questions are explored.