Tuning Out Your Spouse Gets Harder With Age

Think you’re pretty good at selective listening? Well, put that skill down on the list of things that diminish with age, according to a new study from Psychological Science.

Researchers from Queens gathered a sample group of married couples, aged forty-four to seventy-nine, all of whom had been married for several years. Each of the participants read from a script and had their voices recorded, and they all listened to the playback from their own spouse, along with another recording featuring an unfamiliar voice.

Participants were asked to concentrate on one voice or the other and report how much they understood. When asked to concentrate on their spouse, all of the participates, across the age range, did very well. However, when asked to concentrate on the unfamiliar voice, the results were quite different. Middle-aged people were better able to listen to and understand the stranger’s voice, but older people were not.

So, when you’re old and the rest of the world is using words you don’t understand and talking about things you don’t care about, rest assured that you’ll always be able to pick out your wife’s voice, telling you what to do, how to dress, and what you’re doing today. Woo-hoo.

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