The Effects of Population Density and Noise

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The Effects of Population Density and Noise
PSY/460

The Effects of Population Density and Noise
Currently about three-and-a-half billion people live on less than three percent of the world’s land surface (Jiang, Young, & Hardee, 2008). By the year 2015, approximately half of the population in the entire world will be urban dwellers (Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology, 2004). Aside from cultural, social, and economic diversity large cities are typified by stressful living conditions as residents are exposed to such environmental stressors as noise, pollution, and density on a daily basis. Living under these conditions, understanding the concepts and behaviors associated with territoriality, personal space, and privacy are of particular importance. It is necessary for urban planners to consider designs that will facilitate stress and noise reduction in particular. Though space is limited in an urban setting it is critical that parks, zoos, and natural settings be incorporated into the cityscape. The following is a discussion of the effects of population density and noise on urban dwellers. Personal Space, Territoriality, and Privacy

Personal space can be visualized as the emotionally tinged zone around the body that people feel is their “own space.” Comfort with the size of this space differs according to age, culture, context, and inner state. An individual will increase distance between himself and another when he feels threatened or anxious. The same is true if he perceives the other with a stigma, or if the other person is smoking or has a mental disorder. However, an individual will decrease distance between herself and another if she perceives the other as attractive and cooperative. Distance is also significantly decreased if there is cohesion and friendship. Noise, crowding, and room size also affect personal space (Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology, 2004). Territoriality refers to physical spaces used for life-sustaining activities that humans mark in symbolic ways and defend against intruders. A desire for status, privacy, and solitude typically motivate humans to mark territories. Primary territories are those central to daily living such as the home or office. Secondary territories such as coffee shops are less central and do not belong to a specific group but are open to others. Territoriality helps to establish stability and order, increase security and predictability, and define individual and group identity. Higher status individuals receive the most desirable locations in assigned spaces. People are more comfortable in their own territories and can be more opinionated, assertive, and in control. The more strongly valued a territory is, the more it will be defended and a threat to the territory is perceived as a threat to the self (Goines & Hagler, 2007). Privacy refers to how interactions with others are controlled especially regarding intimate information or physical contact. A dynamic process of selective control of access that varies with time and situations, privacy regulation varies between both individuals and groups and is influenced by cultural norms. Loneliness, crowding, and crime are consequences of inadequate privacy regulation. Judgments regarding loneliness and crowding are subjective; a person can be lonely even when she is in a crowd of people (Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology, 2004). Crowding involves feeling overwhelmed by being too accessible to others or by having too many people in one space. Urbanites can be exposed to crowding in outside settings as well as in their habitats creating continual competition for resources. Personal space, territoriality, and privacy are culturally universal forms of establishing healthy personal boundaries rooted in a desire for security and personal identity (Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology, 2004). Privacy, identity, and stimulation are primary motivating forces in creating and defending territory. Living in undifferentiated spaces...
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