Hearing Loss Affects Personalities of Elders As people approach old age, they generally become less outgoing. New research published April 8 in the Journal of Personality shows that this change in personality is amplified among people with hearing loss. The findings emphasize the importance of acknowledging and treating hearing loss in older adults. Researchers led by ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   June 01, 2014
Hearing Loss Affects Personalities of Elders
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Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   June 01, 2014
Hearing Loss Affects Personalities of Elders
The ASHA Leader, June 2014, Vol. 19, 17. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.19062014.17
The ASHA Leader, June 2014, Vol. 19, 17. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.19062014.17
As people approach old age, they generally become less outgoing. New research published April 8 in the Journal of Personality shows that this change in personality is amplified among people with hearing loss. The findings emphasize the importance of acknowledging and treating hearing loss in older adults.
Researchers led by Anne Ingeborg Berg studied 400 people ages 80 to 98 over six years. Every two years, the researchers assessed participants’ physical and mental status. They included emotional stability and personality aspects such as extraversion—the inclination to be outgoing. The results show that even if emotional stability remained constant over the period, the participants became less outgoing.
Interestingly, the researchers were not able to connect the observed changes to physical and cognitive impairments or to age-related difficulties in finding social activities. The only factor that could be linked to reduced extraversion was hearing loss. Hearing aid use did not affect the correlation, suggesting the need for support in the use of hearing devices.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies,” says Berg, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg. “Surprisingly, we did not find that declining overall health and functional capacity make people less outgoing. But hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others.”
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June 2014
Volume 19, Issue 6