The Nicholson School of Communication and Media professor Harry Weger,Ph.D. had always wondered if active listening was effective when having a conversation with another person. He discovered that there weren’t any studies that showed if active listening was any different than other types of listening responses. Weger decide to change that.

The communication professor decided to do a study about active listening along with NSCM HAll of Fame member and alumna, Gina Castle-Bell, Ph.D. ‘08. “The Relative Effectiveness of Active Listening in Initial Interactions,” published in 2014, is about active listening and how it affects the recipient’s perception of the conversation.

“The good thing about active listening is it kind of gives you a formula, which is that you have to put the speaker’s message into your own words to show you understand,” Weger said. “So if that’s not the way you normally listen to someone then you have some guidelines to help you.”

Weger’s research is among the first to use experimental methods to compare active listening responses to other types of listening responses during initial interactions between peers. The results suggest that active listening responses in initial interactions increase the recipient’s perception of feeling understood compared with other response strategies.

“Feeling understood by another person is a very basic part of feeling accepted and valued as a person and it’s a building block for relationships of all kinds,” Weger said.

The professor had the opportunity to present his research in August on PRI’s “Science of Happiness” podcast Episode 18: Listen Like It’s Your First Date.

“Science of Happiness” focuses on research-tested strategies for a happier life. The professor’s research on active listening was presented as one of the strategies to have a happier life.

“I was really excited to get to talk to people on a podcast who are interested in this field of communication,” Weger said. “It was fun to get talk to the producer and then listening to the podcast with my wife. She was so proud of my accomplishment.”

Castle-Bell, Weger’s mentee, was full of excitement about the show.

“Harry’s appearance on the ‘Science of Happiness’ podcast illustrates the important link between scholarship and community building that we strive for as academics,” Castle-Bell said. “While Harry makes a significant difference in the classroom, its vital to the growth of humanity for research to be brought outside of the academy, to everyday people who can benefit from what we have learned. Harry’s appearance is essential for the growth of our discipline, and well as, for the growth of our national community.”

Weger joined NSCM family in fall 2005. He received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Weger is currently the editor of the journal Argumentation and Advocacy. He has executed multiple research efforts about nonverbal communication in televised political debates, communication in cross-sex friendships, and conflict in romantic relationships.

Click here to listen the full podcast.