Difference between hearing and listening

Key difference

The key difference between listening and hearing is that hearing is simply a subconscious activity of perceiving sound by the ear while hearing is a proper way of receiving sound through full attention and careful understanding.

listening vs listening

Listening and hearing are two activities related to the use of the ear. These two terms may seem to mean the same thing, but there is a fine line of difference between them. We are surrounded by a series of sounds most of the time. Hearing is just a feeling of receiving these sound waves and noise etc. While listening is a proper way to receive the sound attentively and understand it. Listening is a subconscious act while listening is done consciously. The mind is not involved during hearing, while listening also involves the activity of the mind.

Comparison chart

Listening Listening
Hearing is simply a way of perceiving sound waves or noise etc. Listening is an act of analyzing and correctly understanding sound.
mental activity
Hearing does not involve any mental activity. Listening implies mental activity.
It is a skill. It is a skill.
It happens at a subconscious level. It happens on a conscious level.
It is a physiological act. It is a psychological act.
Listening does not require concentration. Listening requires concentration.
Use of sense
Use only one direction. Use more than one meaning.
The hearing is primary and continues. Listening is secondary and temporary.
We cannot control the sounds we hear and we are not even aware of them. We listen to obtain information or to receive knowledge.

What is audition?

Hearing is an automatic and accidental brain response to sounds that does not require effort. In fact, it is a natural trait to receive sounds that are always present around us. Hearing is an involuntary activity and does not require concentration. We hear noises or many other sounds without considering them. So, it is an unconscious act. We hear different sounds because it is a physiological act. It’s not about getting information, etc. The human being has the ability to hear a sound between 20 and 20,000 Hertz. We cannot hear above and below this level.

What is listening?

Listening is an ability to carefully perceive sound waves and understand them, transforming them into a meaningful message. So, it occurs on a conscious level and involves mental activity. It requires full attention because the listener must notice the verbal and non-verbal signs of the speaker, i.e. tone of voice, tone and body language, etc. It is used to obtain knowledge, information or learn about something.

Key differences

  1. A person’s ability to receive sound waves is called hearing, while the ability to understand sound waves is called hearing.
  2. Hearing is done subconsciously, while hearing involves consciousness.
  3. Listening is a physiological act while listening is a psychological act.
  4. Hearing is a natural ability or inborn trait, while listening is a learned skill.
  5. Listening is a continuous act, but listening is a temporary activity because we cannot pay attention to something or someone for a long time.
  6. Listening does not involve brain activity, while listening requires brain activity.
  7. Hearing is an involuntary act and does not give any information while listening is a voluntary act and gives information or knowledge about something.

Final Thought

From the above discussion, it is concluded that hearing is an involuntary ability to receive sound subconsciously, while hearing is a voluntary ability to understand sound waves and transfer them to the appropriate meaningful information.

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