Environmental Psychology and Population Density Understanding How People are Effected by Noise
Noise is All Around Me
The first thing that I hear as I leave through the front door of my apartment building is the screaming of a child two floors above and the barking of dogs that belong to the neighbors. These sounds are easily ignored but once outside they are already overshadowed.
There is a major highway near my apartment that sends me the constant rumbling of cars and trucks. There are shouting people, construction workers, cars, buses, small trucks, big trucks, and scooters. These last, though they are the smallest, are the ones that I find the most annoying. I live in Wuhan, China, a city of 10 million people. It is a myth that the most used form of transportantion in China is the bicycle. In reality it is the scooter, though the people who ride them usually call them motorcycles.
For me these scooters are a nusance. The people who ride them show no respect for others in the way they drive and they are constantly using their horns. It is impossible to be anywhere in the city without hearing the sound of someone's horn.
What is Noise?
Noise is sound that is not wanted or that has no need (Goines & Hagler, 2007). Noise is considered an ambient stressor which interferes with behaviors such as communication and the ability to concentrate as well as desired states such as sleep and relaxation (Miedema, 2007). During the past few decades as populations have moved from rural to urban areas the amount of noise which people are exposed to has grown (Goines & Hagler, 2007). The rise of noise levels has had deleterious effects on people's health (Goines & Hagler, 2007).
The Effects of Noise
The adverse effects of noise include hearing impairment, interference with spoken communication, disturbance of sleep, cardiovascular disturbance, mental health, impaired task performance, negative social behavior and annoyance reactions (Goines & Hagler, 2007; Noise: effects on health, 2007; Straub, 2007). Continuous exposure to loud noise has the potential to result in the loss of hearing (Goines & Hagler, 2007; Noise: effects on health, 2007; Straub, 2007). Communication is often hindered by the presence of competing noise (Goines & Hagler, 2007; Noise: effects on health, 2007; Straub, 2007). According to Goines and Hagler (2007) sleep disturbances associated with noise “are difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, waking too early, and alterations in sleep stages and depth, especially a reduction in REM sleep” (p. 290). In addition to these disturbances in the quality and ability to sleep, “noise during sleep causes increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased pulse amplitude, vasoeonstriction, changes in respiration, cardiac arrhythmias, and increased body movement” (Goines & Hagler, 2007, p. 290). Chronic exposure to noise creates a seemingly inescapable atmosphere of stress that can increase blood pressure, heart rate, headaches, emotional instability, anxiety, nervousness sexual impotence and many other biological and psychological troubles (Goines & Hagler, 2007; Noise: effects on health, 2007; Straub, 2007).
Strategies for Noise Reduction
One method of reducing noise is the use of headphones for music (Goines & Hagler, 2007). This method has advantages both for the individual using the headphones and for the people around him. The advantage to people nearby is that by using headphones this individual is not contributing to the environmental noise affecting others. The advantages to the individual is that the headphones block out the unwanted sounds of the environment. This means that even though the individual is listening to music through the headphones he was effectively reduced the noise to which he is being exposed. A downside to the use of headphones is that if the person has the volume too high a potential result of this method might be hearing loss for the individual.
Another method for reducing the level of noise that an individual is exposed to is to spend more time in activities that remove the individual from the source of noises. Outdoor activities which involve nature areas might be beneficial in not only decreasing the noise in a person's life but also providing the other health benefits that are associated with exposure to nature. A weekend hike in the woods or the exploration of local mountain bike trails would be beneficial in providing the individual with exorcise, a break from routine and an escape from the noise and crowds of urban life.
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Goines, L., & Hagler, L. (2007). Noise Pollution: A Modem Plague. Southern Medical Journal,100(3), 287-294. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Miedema, H. E. (2007). Annoyance Caused by Environmental Noise: Elements for Evidence-Based Noise Policies. Journal of Social Issues, 63(1), 41-57. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00495.x
Noise: effects on health. (2007). In Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine.Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/entry/cup
© Copyright 2012. Wesley Meacham- This article is copyright protected and is the property of Wesley Meacham. All images in this article, unless otherwise stated, are the property of Wesley Meacham. Please do not copy this article in whole or in part without giving credit to the original author.