The Role of “Active Listening” in Informal Helping Conversations: Impact on Perceptions of Listener Helpfulness, Sensitivity, and Supportiveness and Discloser Emotional Improvement

Graham D. Bodie, Andrea J. Vickery, Kaitlin Cannava, Susanne M. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Undergraduate students were randomly assigned to disclose a recent upsetting problem to either a trained active listener (n = 41) or an untrained listener (n = 130). Active listeners were trained to ask open questions, paraphrase content, reflect feelings, and use assumption checking as well as be nonverbally immediate. Verbal and nonverbal active listening behaviors were rated as signaling more emotional awareness and promoting a greater degree of emotional improvement but did not affect perceptions of relational assurance or problem-solving utility. On average, the set of verbal behaviors were more important in the prediction of outcomes compared to the nonverbal behaviors. Results contribute to the larger literature on enacted support, suggesting particular roles for active listening techniques within troubles talk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-173
Number of pages23
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Volume79
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Louisiana Board of Regents through the Board of Regents Support Fund (Grant # LEQSF[2011-14]-RD-A-04).

Publisher Copyright:
© Western States Communication Association.

Keywords

  • Comforting
  • Emotional Support
  • Empathy
  • Stress
  • Supportive Listening

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