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S1_JSLHR-22-00374McGarrigle.pdf (343.78 kB)

Sensory-processing sensitivity predicts fatigue (McGarrigle & Mattys, 2023)

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posted on 2023-01-19, 20:43 authored by Ronan McGarrigle, Sven Mattys

Purpose: Listening-related fatigue is a potential negative consequence of challenges experienced during everyday listening and may disproportionately affect older adults. Contrary to expectation, we recently found that increased reports of listening-related fatigue were associated with better performance on a dichotic listening task. However, this link was found only in individuals who reported heightened sensitivity to a variety of physical, social, and emotional stimuli (i.e., increased “sensory-processing sensitivity” [SPS]). This study examined whether perceived effort may underlie the link between performance and fatigue.

Method: Two hundred six young adults, aged 18–30 years (Experiment 1), and 122 older adults, aged 60–80 years (Experiment 2), performed a dichotic listening task and were administered a series of questionnaires including the NASA Task Load Index of perceived effort, the Vanderbilt Fatigue Scale (measuring daily life listening-related fatigue), and the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (measuring SPS). Both experiments were completed online.

Results: SPS predicted listening-related fatigue, but perceived effort during the listening task was not associated with SPS or listening-related fatigue in either age group. We were also unable to replicate the interaction between dichotic listening performance and SPS in either group. Exploratory analyses revealed contrasting effects of age; older adults found the dichotic listening task more effortful but indicated lower overall fatigue.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that SPS is a better predictor of listening-related fatigue than performance or effort ratings on a dichotic listening task. SPS may be an important factor in determining an individual’s likelihood of experiencing listening-related fatigue irrespective of hearing or cognitive ability.

Supplemental Material S1. Deviations from preregistration.

McGarrigle, R., & Mattys, S. (2023). Sensory-processing sensitivity predicts fatigue from listening, but not perceived effort, in young and older adults. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(2), 444–460.


This research was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) New Investigator Award (ES/R003572/1), given to Ronan McGarrigle.