The Effects of Population Density
(PSY460) /July 26, 2013
The Effects of Population Density
The term population density is described as little more than the ratio of organisms to the size of an area (Xpeditions, 2008). This ratio is determined by taking the number of people in a given area and dividing that number by the area they occupy. As of the last U.S. census, the average population density of the United States was 70 people per square mile (Xpeditions, 2008). This is just an objective fact though and has little, if any, applicability to the average American’s daily life. However, when issues of excess population noise and decreased privacy are taken into account the subjective perception of population density meets the objective fact of population density. As population density increases so does the noise that the population produces, especially in crowded areas. Likewise, as people move to a more confined area the ability to maintain privacy and a sense of territoriality adapts and changes. To fully understand how population density affects individual people, the concepts of noise, privacy, territoriality, and personal space must be covered and the relevance of these concepts—and mediation thereof—must be applied to the subject of populations. Noise
Noise is in the ear of the beholder, or so it would seem. Strictly speaking, noise is any sound—a wave that travel through an air medium—that is unwanted or interferes with the normal transmission of acoustic information (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995). Notwithstanding, the perception of noise does involve a psychological component, so the identification and classification of noise is highly subjective. Sound itself has several differentiating perceptual characteristics—pitch, timbre, amplification—which correspond directly with the physical attributes of the sound itself—wave symmetry, wavelength, and wave amplitude. Also, scientists use decibels and hertz to measure sound amplification and frequency, respectively. Even though there is little know about the neurological language that transmits the physical mechanism of sound to the psychological perception of hearing, there is a general consensus in academic literature that, “…transportation vehicles like cars, trucks, trains, and plains, and gatherings of people at, for example, a rock concert, the neighborhood bar, or a Saturday night BYOB party” are all sources of noise (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995, p. 208). For instance, Bronzaft et al (2008) found that people that live near airports experience four times the normal amount of noise than other residential occupants and are 50% more likely to be bothered by airplane and other transportation noise. In this example the subjective perception of noise is influenced by the environment in which the sound is presented. Furthermore, even though noise is largely anthropogenic it can still cause cumulative and chronic psychological and physiological damage—affecting the areas of psychological functioning, social behavior, and task performance. As with almost any environmental stimuli, there are strategies and means by which noise can be mediated and reduced. Strategies to Reduce Noise
A new technology that is now in use in some industries utilizes computer microprocessors to create opposing sound waves to noise, thereby cancelling the noise out altogether (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995). This type of technology is most effective in situations where repetitive noise is exhibited, since the opposing waves are easier to produce since they are always the same. Currently the technology is being used in airplane pilot helmets to allow them to hear cockpit communications better and cancel out the sound of the engines. Moreover, sound absorbing materials can be placed between equipment and people in order to protect people from unwanted noise. By using sound absorbing materials and sound cancelling technology, noise can be reduced...
References: Arkkelin, D., Veitch, R. (1995). Environmental psychology: An international perspective, 1e.New York, NY: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Bronzaft, A.L., Cohen, B.S., Goodman, J., Heikkinen, M., Nadas, A. (2008). Airport-related airpollution and noise. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene, 5(2), 119-129. Retrieved June 28, 2010, from CINAHL Plus with Full Text database.
Brown, G., Lawrence, T. B., & Robinson, S. L. (2005). Territoriality in organizations. Academyof Management Review, 30(3), 577-594. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from Business Source Complete database.
Xpeditions: A look at the population density of the United States. (2008). National Geographic.Retrieved July 27, 2013 from National Geographic Web site: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/01/g912/density.html
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