Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Kathryn H. Arehart

Second Advisor

Brenda Schick

Third Advisor

Brian J. Fligor


This study investigated how people use portable listening devices (PLDs), such as MP3 players, through laboratory-based measures of chosen listening level (CLL), self-reports of listening habits, and with a field system for monitoring listening levels in real-world environments. Additionally, attitudes and beliefs about PLD use and hearing loss were assessed using the Listening Habits Questionnaire (LHQ), a survey based in the Health Belief Model. The aims of this research were to 1) quantify and describe listening habits of PLD users, 2) evaluate the relationships between laboratory measures, self-report measures, and real-world measures collected through datalogging, 3) observe for effects of direct monitoring on self-reported listening habits and 4) evaluate the relationships between attitudes and beliefs about PLD use and hearing loss and listening behavior. The listening habits of a group of 52 subjects with normal hearing, ages 18-29, were evaluated. Laboratory-based measurements of CLL in varying noise conditions showed that, as background noise increased, CLL increased, with 84.6 percent of listeners choosing levels above 85 dBA in the presence of 80 dBA of background noise. In contrast, field measurements over the course of a week identified that 16.7 percent of the study subjects accrued more than 100 percent of their weekly noise dose from PLD use. Overall, the study subjects tended to overestimate their exposure slightly, but were relatively accurate in their estimates of their PLD exposure. For all subjects, the most accurate question was one asking PLD users to report their listening duration and their usual listening level as a percentage of the volume control. When attitudes and beliefs were compared to actual behavior, the strongest regression models were those predicting both self-reported and measured noise dose, showing much greater predictive value than those models predicting CLL alone. Further, an evaluation was completed of the LHQ showing good internal validity and reliability, positioning the LHQ to be used as a research tool for understanding the impact of attitudes and beliefs on listening behavior. This study also provides a novel technique for monitoring PLD listening levels over time, which could be adapted for future clinical or research use