Laplace and Guastavino studied acoustics in churches. They found that “sound [in churches] acquires ‘a life of its own,’ abstracted from the sound sources, unlike other everyday listening situations where sounds are experienced as pointers to object or agents who produce sound. . . . Church acoustics can also reinforce the impression that sounds are detached from their sources. Sound phenomena acquire a form of agency to directly affect participants’ perceptions, reflections and mood, placing them in a world of its own where time passes more slowly and space functions differently.”
Ayoko and teammates reviewed how office noise influences employee mood (affect), which is particularly important because more positive moods enhance cognitive performance, getting along with other people, wellbeing, and health. The research team reports that data collected in an open office showed that higher levels of perceived office noise were linked to more negative moods, and those more negative moods could in turn be tied to greater employee withdrawal and task conflict as well as to people trying to mark their physical territories: “Specifically, we found that, as perceived open-pla
Lee and colleagues studied satisfaction with speech privacy in workplaces via a survey. They share that “workers should be allowed to choose a workspace where they can focus on their job by creating a suitable space to concentrate. While it is important to create separate spaces for different purposes, it is essential to consider the provision of an isolated space by modifying workstations, which represent the smallest domain for workers from the perspective of spatial design, or by adjusting partition heights.
Puligadda and VanBergen studied acoustic logos. The research team found that “The instrument used to play a brand’s sound logo influences perceived brand personality. . . . A sound logo's instrument and a visual logo's design can have similarly strong influences on brand personality perceptions. . . . One attribute of auditory information is timbre, which describes the identity of a sound source (an instrument, voices, etc.).
With more and more people doing podcasts, creating optimal conditions for recording, at home, in offices, and elsewhere is becoming increasingly important. A press release from the Acoustical Society of America shares that “A high-quality podcast recording is one that does not capture sounds other than the podcaster’s voice. . . . Mechanical noise should be controlled so that you cannot hear HVAC systems in a recording. . . . Square room proportions should be avoided as this can cause room modes, or buildup of sound energy in spots of the room, creating an uneven acoustic environment.
Researchers continue to study annoying sounds. Mueller-Trapet reports that “Whether it's the constant stomping of feet or the thump from dropping something . . . ‘impact sounds,’ are one of the main causes for complaints in multi-unit residential buildings and can negatively impact occupants' health and work. . . . According to Mueller-Trapet, long-term exposure to such unwanted sounds may potentially lead to cardiovascular problems and sleep disturbance. . . . [the research team] provided a living room-like situation and recorded impact sounds of objects dropping and people walking.
Upping activity levels
Hammond and team studied the mental health benefits of encountering (seeing or hearing birds). They relate that they “used the Urban Mind smartphone application to examine the impact of seeing or hearing birds on self-reported mental wellbeing in real-life contexts. A sample of 1292 participants completed a total of 26,856 ecological momentary assessments between April 2018 and October 2021. Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental wellbeing.
What's seen influences what's heard
Motoki and co-workers analyzed the impressions created by the sound of brand names. They learned that “Phonetic elements of brand names can convey a range of specific meanings. . . . The presence of higher-frequency sounds (front vowels, fricative, and voiceless consonants) in brand names tends to be associated with concepts linked to higher evaluation and lower potency, whereas lower-frequency sounds (back vowels, stop, and voiced consonants) tend to be more strongly associated with concepts linked to lower evaluation and higher potency.”