Are women better listeners than men?

Are men the better listeners, aren't they?

At a party, numerous voices can be heard from different directions at the same time. We only want to concentrate on one voice in a conversation, namely that of our counterpart. To do this, we have to suppress all other voices and sources of noise. This places high demands on our attention system. With the help of several loudspeakers from which various everyday noises can be heard, researchers from Tübingen investigated whether there is a gender difference in terms of spatial attentiveness when listening - namely whether men or women are better able to "hear" a certain noise from several differently located sound sources. In fact, there was a difference between the two sexes: men can therefore determine the sound source much more precisely than women. The possible cause of the difference could be in human evolution. Men were the ones who hunted for food. Spatial attentiveness was extremely important, both in the visual and auditory areas. For example, prey animals could be localized by sound long before they could be seen. Even if such functions are no longer necessary for everyday life today, they have left traces in the organization of our brain and, accordingly, in our behavior.

However, localizing a sound source does not necessarily mean that you are mentally involved in what you hear, i.e. not just listening, but listening. The study does not reveal whether men are superior to women in this regard.


Source: Zündorf, I.C. et al .: Cortex 2011; 47 (6): 741-749

DAZ 2011, No. 26, p. 8