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February 1981

Styles of Listening and Clinical Sensitivity

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(2):216-218. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780270102014

• We report the results of a study of the relation between individual differences in listening style and clinical sensitivity. Listening style is conceptualized as extending from a critical, analytic, focused attitude to a holistic, intuitive, free-floating attitude. Two measures of listening style are used: eye-blink rate and memory for high-imagery words. A tape recording, a 17minute fragment of a psychotherapy, has been rated by a panel of experts as containing 22 cues reflecting the patient's concern with termination of treatment. This calibrated tape is played to clinicians, and their ability to identify the cues is our experimental measure of clinical sensitivity. It was found that listening style is a strong predictor of clinical sensitivity. The method offers promise for study of a range of issues relevant to therapeutic processes.