“Respect for a young male with and without a hearing aid: A reversal of the “hearing-aid effect” in medical and non-medical students?”

Contact Name: Dr Claudine Clucas

Contact Email: c.clucas@chester.ac.uk

Claudine obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Connecticut in the USA. She then completed an MSc in Research in Psychology at Oxford University and a PhD on social psychological influences on and consequences of patients’ experiences of feeling respected in doctor-patient relations in the Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies at the University of Bristol. As part of this research, she studied attitudes of respect towards people with hearing aids. Following her PhD, she worked as a researcher in a health and clinical psychology group at University College London and is presently a Psychology lecturer at the University of Chester pursuing research interests in the area of respect in health and non-health contexts.

Objective: To investigate, in line with the “hearing-aid effect”, whether medical students would have less respect for a young male with a hearing aid than without when he was described as either respectworthy (i.e. as deserving respect) or non-respectworthy, and whether their attitudes differed from non-medical students. The interaction between the presence/absence of a hearing aid and respectworthiness on respect level was also explored. Design: Participants were shown a photograph and a written description of a young male. They were pseudo-randomly assigned to one of four core conditions reflecting the presence or absence of a hearing aid and the young man’s respectworthiness, and completed questions regarding their behaviours, beliefs, and feelings of respect towards him.

Study sample: One hundred and eighty-one medical students and a control group of 92 non-medical students.

Results: Results showed more respect for the young male with a hearing aid than without from female participants, and for the young male described as respectworthy compared to non-respectworthy in medical and in non-medical students. However, medical students had more respect for the young male with and without a hearing aid than non-medical students.

Conclusions: Findings were contrary to the “hearing-aid effect”. Possible explanations are given and implications are discussed.

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