Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Effects of Sound

Some of you might find it interesting that we can hear sound through our skin. I, personally, find it even freakier that we can hear it through our bones. As a brief break from my exploration of visual stimuli, I share with you this TED talk on sound.

Highlights of this talk

The four ways sound affects us:
1) physiologically
2) psychologically
3) cognitively
4) behaviorally

"You listen consciously, you can take control of the sound around you. It's good for your health. It's good for your productivity."

Examples of the effects of sound

1) A means to help us spot electric cars better as well as other things:
"when there was a visual cue, respondents were significantly less accurate than with no cue. With an audio cue, they were significantly more accurate. And when both audio and visual cues were given, the difference from the no-cue condition wasn't significant (although it was significantly different from both the other conditions). So the audio cue, especially when not paired with a visual cue, made respondents more accurate than a visual cue. If anything, the visual cue seemed to make it more difficult for respondents to identify which circle was disappearing."

2) Affecting moods, like anxiety and depression.

3) To mark psychological boundaries. I've seen this from person experience. I've lived in some diverse socio-economics areas during my life--from upper middle class to what some people would consider "a 'hood". One thing I've noticed in general, the more stressful a neighborhood is, the noisier it is. I've also noticed that the more homogenious the neighborhood, the quieter it is. Over the years, I've developed the theory that many people use sound/music to isolate themselves from others. It's corolary is that groups of people use noise to stake psychological territory.

The last place I lived in became the noisiest and ugliest place after it became more diverse and the ethnic groups felt the need to "mark their territory". The fact that it was a high crime area made things worse. The place I live now is ethnically diverse, but slightly higher socio-economically. Because of that, while we occasionally get someone being loud, it doesn't last for long.

When a few men moved into our apartment building from a lower social bracket last spring, I could tell that they felt uncomfortable, because they gave furitive looks and then would talk "homie/gang-banger" when someone came near them. It wasn't long before I was awoken from my very needed nap by the sounds of one of them screaming profanities at a girl on his cell phone outside, with all the charm of a cat in heat. Finally he hung up, but the next time he started, the neighbors below me started to blare Tejanos music to drown them out. They turned the music down when the next phone call stopped.

Since we live near a lake, we also had the sounds of nature to compete with, which thankfully would drown both parties out from time to time. Within about six weeks, the sound wars ended and nature won.

No comments: