Noise and Social Behaviour

Many researchers have established that background noise can be dangerous for humans’ health. There are various consequences for a long exposure to noise such as hearing loss, heart diseases or changes on the immune system; also it is well known that noise can even affect human psychology causing loss of concentration, stress increasing or aggressive behaviours.

A study on social behaviour conducted during the 1970s stated that the increase of background noise can even change the way humans behave in situations in which help is needed; researchers studied the individual willingness to give aid both during and immediately following noise exposure. In an early study conducted in 1975 by the psychologist Charles Korte showed that in areas with low sonic inputs people are more likely to offer small assistance or grant an interview than people in high sonic inputs areas. In 1977, researches proved in an experiment that less helping behaviour occurred in a high-noise condition than low-noise condition.

For some observed effects a simple ‘desire to escape’ explanation could be given: the individual would not stop and give help to avoid a prolonged noise exposure; however, this explanation could not account for every result. Another possible explanation could be that the subjects help less because they are experiencing a negative affective state caused by the noise.

Here’s the link for the original research document http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~scohen/noisechap84.pdf

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