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The influence of motives on the perceived communication success – A qualitative investigation
Hearing aid fitting usually targets on speech intelligibility improvement. However, in real life not only speech understanding, but communication matters. According to literature there are different purposes to communication. Delia and Clark (1979) assume three goals of social interaction. Firstly, people communicate because of the problem-solving aspect of communication. If they want to reach a goal, which is not achievable by their own, they have an instrumental goal for communication. Second, there are relational goals, where people communicate to establish and maintain relationships. The last objectives are those to evoke, maintain or pattern a specific impression (identity goals).
The aim of the present work was to gather first insights whether – besides acoustical demands – communication motives alternate the expectation of hearing impaired regarding their hearing aids. Under the assumption that the current hearing aid will provide the same processing in an acoustically similar situation, we aimed to analyse whether the motives cause differences in the perceived communication success. Consequently, differences in the signal processing depending on the active communication motive might be indicated.
For this purpose, a semi-structured interview with experienced hearing aid users (N=7) was conducted. The investigator asked them to imagine situations that were narrated by her. The stories were varied to suggested certain acoustical demands for the imagined situation (e.g. quiet or background noise) and to consecutively activate the three communication motives in each of them (instrumental, relational, identity). For every combination of the acoustical situation and the activated motive, the participants had to rate on a 7-point Likert-scale to which extent a) it is possible to exchange information, b) communication is exhausting, and c) the surrounding is burdening. Those subscales are facets of the perceived communication success and mirrored therefore the underlying construct.
Data analyses revealed, as expected, an influence of acoustical demands as background noise and number of communication partners on the perceived communication success. Beyond this, a trend significant effect for one communication motive was unfold: The participants perceived the surrounding as more burdening when they imagined a situation, where they were aiming to evoke and maintain a certain personal impression on their communication partners (identity goal) towards a situation where they were seeking for help by them (instrumental goal). These results indicate that communication motives alternate the perception of an acoustically similar situation and might be a source for additional insights into different perceptual needs.