Today’s (Feb. 2, 2018) Wall Street Journal had an amazing article by Jo Craven McGinty (click here) that shows people hear better with their right ear than with their left ear.
While the online headline “One Way to Get Your Child to Listen,” implies the story is about children, the results are based on research done on adults by Professors Sacchinelli, Weaver, Wilson, and Cannon.
Their conference presentation asks “when cognitive demand increases, does the right ear have an advantage?” The answer appears to be a resounding yes.
The article is important because many of us are often in situations when we are forced to listen to people while multiple sources of sound bombard us. For example, you might be at a party and trying to listen to a colleague, but other people are chatting away nearby or a television is blaring. It might be a more important situation like being in a conference room discussing a key proposal and multiple people might be talking at once. Or you could be in a lecture where the professor and your neighbor are talking at the same time.
The results suggest sound coming in the right ear is heard and processed first. Left ear information is processed, but more slowly and with more error because of the way the brain is physically built. This means if you are in one of the above situations, turn your right ear to the speaker or source you really want to hear.
If you are trying to tell someone something important and multiple people are talking then the research means you should make sure you are speaking into their right ear, not their left ear.
Wow, I knew that people visually process information in different directions. With this research I now know direction is important in hearing too!