Sometimes you listen to improve a relationship with a loved one, and sometimes you listen to learn, like in informational listening. Learn the definition of informational learning as well as skills and barriers to informational learning in this lesson.

What Is Informational Listening?

Lane sits in her high school biology class and tunes into what her teacher is saying. She is only interested in understanding the message that the teacher is conveying about that day’s topic. Lane is engaging in informational listening.

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Informational listening is listening with the goal of learning, understanding, and grasping information. Informational listening is distinguished from several other forms of listening such as relational, appreciative, critical, discriminative, and inspirational listening. It is considered a passive form of listening because the listener is not judging, critiquing, or evaluating the message; they are just listening to understand it.

For example, Lane (from the opening scenario) is listening to a lesson about evolution in her biology class. In order to successfully engage in informational listening, Lane must keep her Catholic religious beliefs at bay in order to abstain from judgment and critique of the message the teacher is trying to convey.

Listening to a lecture requires great informational listening in order to fully retain the educational information given.
Listening to a teacher

More Examples of Informational Listening

Most of us participate in informational listening on a day-to-day basis. If we are lost, we may stop for directions and will need to listen to the gas station attendant carefully. If we get a new job, we need to listen to the information our boss gives us in order to grasp our new responsibilities and roles. If a mother calls 911 because her toddler son is choking, she needs to listen carefully to the information and instructions given to perform first aid or CPR on the child.

Listening to verbal directions requires concentration and informational listening to fully comprehend how to get to a destination.
Asking for directions

Skills in Informational Listening

Informational listening helps us learn, become smarter, and become better at what we do in life. Therefore, it is clear that polishing skills that improve our informational listening abilities is advantageous to our lives.

Let’s take a look at a few skills that help with informational listening.

Knowledge of Vocabulary

The more words we know, the more we can understand. Therefore, increasing mastery of vocabulary through techniques like learning a new word a day or reading books can assist in being a good informational listener.


We must know that in order to concentrate, we need to be motivated to focus, stay disciplined in the face of distractions, actively and mentally say no to distractions, and accept responsibility in getting the task at hand accomplished. Informational listening requires immense concentration.


With good memory, we can recall experiences and information from our lives to help make sense of information in informational listening.

Refraining From Judgment

This skill requires an open mind. If we begin judging and jumping to conclusions when attempting to properly listen and retain information, our mind will wander and possibly miss valuable pieces of information.


This does not mean being able to properly divide papers into an organized filing system. This means identifying key concepts from auditory information and mentally organizing them into an outline so that you can better understand and remember material.

Asking Questions

If listening to a lecture, asking mental questions to further grasp the information as the teacher is talking can mean that the listener is truly grasping the information that is being said. If a person is having a conversation with someone else and ask questions to clarify understanding, the speaker can be sure that the listener is understanding and fully grasping what they are saying.

Taking Notes

This is a common skill that enhances informational listening in school. One valuable tip in taking notes is to only write down key concepts and terms instead of trying to write down everything that is being said.

Barriers to Informational Listening

It is important to avoid obstacles to informational listening. Some barriers include the following:

Confirmation Bias

This is when someone cherry-picks parts of a conversation or lecture that fit their own beliefs, values, or standards. This can lead to an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of the information.

Jane believes that children should not be spanked as a form of discipline. When she comes across a new story of parents who succeeded with this parenting technique, she ignores it. When she hears stories about kids who suffered negative consequences due to being spanked, she provides full attention, which further affirms her beliefs on this issue.

The Vividness Effect

This is the higher impact of information presented in a dramatic, vivid or emotionally interesting manner versus the lower impact of information that is presented in a dull or less interesting manner.

Bill watches an alarming documentary on the dangers of immunizing children. When it comes time for his baby’s pediatrician to schedule the immunizations, Bill declines. When the nurse tries to explain the importance of immunizations to Bill, the shocking information in the documentary flashes through his mind, and he is unable to fully listen to the information given by the nurse.

Lesson Summary

Amongst various forms of listening is informational listening, or listening with the goal of learning, understanding, and grasping information. It is considered a passive form of listening because the listener is not judging, critiquing, or evaluating the message they are listening to. Skills in informational listening include knowledge of vocabulary, memory, concentration, refraining from judgment, organization, asking questions, and taking notes. Barriers to informational listening include confirmation bias and the vividness effect.