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Paul E. King

Subject Communication Reception and Effects » Information Processing and Cognitions

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


It was the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus who first observed that nature had provided two ears but one tongue that we might hear from others twice as much as we speak. While the wisdom and practical values of listening have been understood throughout history, attempts to study listening as a social science and to include listening instruction in curricula are relatively recent phenomena, gaining some popularity with the early work of Ralph Nichols, including his groundbreaking text Are you listening? ( Nichols & Stevens 1957 ). Nichols and Stevens describe an early study conducted by Paul Rankin that divided the act of communication into four distinct behaviors: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In this survey, listening was used more extensively than the other communicative modes. Similarly, Shannon and Weaver's (1949) model of communication included the receiver as an independent component in the communication process (→  Models of Communication ). Possibly due to the focus of this early work, listening was reified as distinct and unique, functioning independently of other communicative behaviors. Over time, the view of communication as a linear process, neatly divisible into speaker, listener, and message components, gave way to the conceptualization of communication as a transaction in which meaning is constructed and message encoding and decoding occur simultaneously. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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