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Do You Hear What I Hear? - The Art of Selective Hearing

Updated on November 29, 2011

Did You Say Something?

Hello? I’m talking to you! It was yet another day where I managed to get myself into trouble, not really understanding how or why. My wife stood in the doorway obviously waiting for some type of response. Did you say something? I sheepishly asked. Once again, she responded, you are not listening to me!

Was it really true? Was I actually in the same room and not hearing what someone was saying just a few feet a way from me? Am I going deaf? Could there really is such a thing as selective hearing?

Is it possible that our brains are selectively processing certain information and discarding other information? I believe it is a combination of several different factors such as various distractions in our immediate surroundings. Another factor might be the thoughts we are currently processing when the new information arrives.

Perhaps our brains perform like computers, sequentially processing all incoming data. This may be the very reason we sometimes experience a delay, for example when you ask someone, “did you say something?”

There may even be evidence from our early childhood in which we have had similar experiences. Do you ever recall your mother asking, “Didn’t you hear me calling you?” Did we? Did we just ignore it? It is interesting however that we always heard the ice cream truck coming - even when it was a few blocks away!

What about as teenagers when we could watch television, listen to the radio and do homework all at the same time! Today it is called multi-tasking, but perhaps we were just selectively processing information at our own rate.

Maybe, like computers, some of us just do not have enough memory to process all of the information and some of it never makes it all the way through. Your brain knows there was additional information to process but just could not connect all the dots.

This is one reason I am not totally convinced that we selectively hear certain people or things. I do believe that we may sometimes be preoccupied with other things on our mind. However, it does seem like a weird coincidence that I always hear when my wife is calling me for dinner.

Wait, is that my wife calling?


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    • klanguedoc profile image

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      So true!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I have to say my wife's name to get her attention some of the time as I know otherwise I would be speaking and she won't be listening.


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