September 17, 2015

Listening Statistics: 23 Facts You Need to Hear

Part of being a good communicator means knowing how to listen. If you're like most people, you probably don't give much though to how many words you take in each day. Research suggests that the average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words during the course of a 24-hour period.

Developing good listening skills is important, especially when it comes to building strong professional and personal relationships. Being an effective listener means engaging your ears and your brain so you're tuned in to what's being said - something that takes time to learn how to do. Just ask any parent of small children how frustrating it is to have to repeat themselves 100 times a day.

CreditDonkey took the time to research some basic facts and figures about how well people listen and what it is we listen to. If you're curious about what we uncovered, you'll want to find a quiet spot to check out these 23 insightful listening statistics.


Listening isn't something that requires a huge physical effort, but it doesn't mean it's not any less exhausting. Between TV shows, conversations at work and chatting with your spouse, you're taking in a huge amount of information and processing it can be a mental workout.

  1. How much time do people spend listening?
    People spend between 70 and 80% of their day engaged in some form of communication, and about 55% of their time is devoted to listening.

  2. What's the average speaking rate?
    Some people are chattier than others but on average, the typical person utters anywhere from 125 to 175 words per minute.

  3. How many words do we listen to per minute?
    Your ears work a little faster than your mouth. The average number of words you're able to listen to per minute is around 450.

  4. How much of what we hear is absorbed?
    Even though your ears are capable of picking up on so many words, your brain doesn't necessarily process all of them. Most people usually only remember about 17 to 25% of the things they listen to.

  5. Are men or women better listeners?
    Research shows that men only use half their brain to listen while women engage both lobes. If you constantly feel like your spouse or significant other is tuning you out, that may be why.

  6. How important are the words we say?
    You might be surprised to learn that your words only convey about 7% of what you're trying to say. The other 93% is communicated through facial expressions and the tone of your voice.

  7. Is there more than one way to listen?
    There are actually four distinct listening styles that you can employ, and about 40% of people are using two or more at any given time.


An extensive body of research exists concerning how the things we listen to can affect our mental, physical and emotional state. What we found is that listening can correlate to better (or worse) health in a number of different ways.

  1. Is listening to complaining bad for you?
    Listening to nagging or complaining for 30 minutes or more can cause damage to the part of your brain that handles problem-solving skills. That's something to keep in mind the next time you're stuck talking to a Negative Nancy.

  2. Can listening to music make you smarter?
    Putting on some tunes while you study can potentially improve your grades. Studies show that listening to classical music while hitting the books has been linked to a 12% increase in math test scores.

  3. Will it reduce stress?
    A number of studies have attempted to link listening to music to a more stress-free environment. Listening to music before surgery has been shown to lower cortisol levels and result in less anxiety compared to patients who were given drugs instead.

  4. Or help you lose weight?
    Researchers have shown that listening to relaxing music while eating out at a restaurant resulted in diners consuming 175 fewer calories. If you're having trouble sticking to your diet, a side of smooth jazz with your dinner may be the answer.

  5. Does listening to music increase accident risk?
    When teens are behind the wheel, 98% of them are likely to commit a driving error while listening to their favorite music. That figure drops to 78% when they listen to something relaxing, like soft rock.


One of the ways that people do a lot of their listening each day is through radio. Young and old alike continue to cruise the dial but there are some major differences in terms of how they do it.

  1. How many people listen to the radio?
    Even though the face of radio has changed, its popularity hasn't. Approximately 92% of Americans aged 12 and older listen to the radio at least once a week.

  2. How long do adults listen for?
    Throughout the course of a day, adults listen to just over four hours of audio communications. About 52% of that is spent listening to broadcast radio and the rest is divvied up between Internet radio, audiobooks and satellite radio.

  3. What do adults listen to most?
    Country music is the most popular choice among adults, taking up a 14% share of the market. In second place is news and talk radio, with a 12% slice of the audience pie.

  4. How often do teens tune in?
    Kids consume about 8 to 10 hours of media a day, and 2.5 of those hours are spent listening to music.

  5. How do teens access their music?
    The way kids listen to music varies but on average, they spend 41 minutes on their iPods or MP3 players each day. Another 64 minutes is divided between listening to a standard radio and Internet radio through their computers.

  6. What's the most listened to song of all time?
    If you're wondering what the most listened to song in history is, forget the Top 40. It's actually Disney's "It's a Small World," which has been played roughly 50 million times since its 1964 release.


For some people, their ability to listen is hindered by things beyond their control. When hearing loss is a factor, it can have lasting effects on how well people are able to listen and communicate in general.

  1. How many people have listening difficulties?
    An estimated 38 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. That's about 12% of the total population.

  2. What's the number one cause of hearing trouble?
    While aging plays a part, exposure to loud noises is behind 15% of hearing loss in adults aged 20 to 69. Even 15 minutes of listening to loud noise each day can cause permanent hearing damage.

  3. Who is most likely to lose their hearing?
    Men are more likely than women to experience hearing loss. There's a 25% chance of having a severe hearing deficiency by the time you reach age 65. That number jumps to 50% among the 75 and up crowd.

  4. How many children have hearing loss?
    Approximately 3 million children in the U.S. have some type of hearing loss and just over a third of them are under age 3. About 5 in every 1,000 newborns will be affected.

  5. How does it impact their education?
    Even a mild hearing loss can cause kids to fall behind in school. Studies show that they may miss out on as much as 50% of what's being said in the classroom.


Escaping the constant barrage of background noise in our daily lives isn't always easy, and unless you're willing to take a vow of silence, you can't avoid it altogether. The key is to pay attention to what you're listening to, making it easier to filter out the static.

Sources and References

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a tv comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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