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Clarifying "Soundscape": Effects of Question Format on Reaction to Noise from Combined Sources

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Understanding of responses to noise, and effective noise regulation, benefits from consideration of "soundscape", "background noise", or "total noise". Each of these concepts involves noise from combined sources, and yet our understanding of reaction to noise from combined sources appears to be substantially incomplete. The present research investigated whether the finding that self-reported reaction to noise from combined sources is often less than the sum of self-reported reaction to the component noises is partly an artifact of question format, while also considering the effects of noise sensitivity. 82 Psychology 1 students nominated three outside noises that they hear regularly where they live, and rated their reaction to each of these noises, singly and in pairs, using either a closed-ended or an open-ended response scale. Participants made paired-ratings under three different instruction conditions. The difference between self-reported reaction to noise pairs and the summed self-reported reaction to the single component noises was lower when participants were instructed to consider combined noises "when they occur together", compared to when they were given no instruction (which did not diff er from when participants were instructed to consider combined noises "whether or not they occur at the same time"). There was no influence of response scale, or of particular component noises. The format of questions about noise from combined sources should be carefully considered in future soundscape research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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