How Does Hearing Loss Affect Behavior?

elderly man showing hearing loss behavior in conversation by cupping a hand behind his ear
Cheri Moore

Written by Cheri Moore

February 3, 2022

Have you ever thought about how you instinctively know where to look when you hear a sound? Or, why some people struggle to see what is right in front of them?

As I worked with young and older people, I began to realize there are numerous, similar effects of hearing loss upon behaviors for all ages. For example, hearing loss can affect your ability to look in the right direction in response to a sound. If a child fails to look, many call it an attention deficit. If an adult fails to look, we assume they are ignoring us. Meanwhile, if an older adult fails to look, most of us think they simply failed to hear.

It’s Physiological

black and white image of an ear diagram

An Interesting Fact

The instant sound starts to make your eardrum move, your eyes move in the direction of that sound. This occurs even before you are aware of the sound. Equally fascinating, in 2018, researchers (1) found that the eardrum moves 10 ms before detectable eye movement.

Poor Ear, Nose, and Throat Health Affect Behaviors

A conductive hearing loss occurs when sound energy is unable to strongly travel through the middle ear to the cochlea. Temporary, mild hearing loss occurs when fluid fills the middle ear; when inflamed eustachian tubes disrupt the amount of air pressure in your middle ear; and when there is a growth in the middle ear or an injury to the middle ear bones. All these create a hearing loss that negatively affects listening behaviors and ability to tolerate background, competing sounds.

So what happens when poor ear, nose, or throat health contributes to temporary hearing loss?

Another Interesting Fact: In 2015, researchers (2) shared that conductive hearing loss makes it more difficult to accurately locate, see, the source of a sound. Basically, you fail to look in the correct direction.

What You Hear Affects What You See – Your Behaviors

Do you know which similar hearing loss behaviors are seen in all ages: preschoolers, children, teens, young and older adults?

Hearing Loss Behaviors

What You Hear Affects What You See even when mild hearing loss under-stimulates the brain.

The brain is where we process what is heard and seen. Then, there is an instinctive response that shapes one’s behavior.

What You Hear Affects What You See and When You See It

Hearing loss affects a person’s behaviors on a physiological level. Your instinctual responses keep you safe. Do you need more time to think about what you hear and see?

A group of people standing at the far end of a city crosswalk waiting to cross the street.

For example, you hear an engine roar or tires screech. Even though the sign says go, what you hear and see tells you whether to wait or go. While you are at a crosswalk, you must know if it is safe to step out onto the crosswalk.

Hearing loss has a physiological effect on behaviors. For example, individuals with hearing loss find it easier to listen through headphones or earbuds. However, headphone or earbud usage by children and teens damages the hearing system. Because individuals with hearing loss tend to use unsafe listening volumes and use them too often.

Understanding the intensity of behavioral characteristics of hearing loss is essential to knowing if you need additional hearing tests.

Learn Moore

Learn more about your loved ones or client’s behaviors by completing a Moore Auditory-Visual Questionnaire (MAvQ). Prequestionnaire observation activities teach you what to observe and how to observe. Interactive questions guide discussions with your loved one or client providing insights that will challenge their assumptions about your hearing.

Your Moore Auditory-Visual Questionnaire Report helps you learn about the intensity and frequency of behaviors associated with diminished hearing and hearing loss, sound sensitivities, auditory processing difficulties, and visual processing difficulties.


Gruters, Kurtis; Murphy, David; Jenson, Cole; Smith, David; Shera, Christopher; Groh, Jennifer (Jan 23, 2018). The eardrums move when the eyes move: A mustisensory effect on the mechanics of hearing. Proc National Academic Science U S A. 115 (6). Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1717948115. Retrieved from

Volck, Alexander C.; Laske, Roman; Litschel, Ralph; Probst, Rudolf; Tasman, Abel-Jan (2015). Sound localization measured by eye-tracking. Int J Audio. 54 (12), pgs. 976-983. Doi: 10.3109/14992027.2015.1088968. Epub 2015 Nov 18. Retrieved from

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