Sound preference as a moderator to restorative environments
Paper i proceeding, 2011
With increased stressful situations in the society the demands for restorative environments with a high ability to reduce stress increase. Studies of urban soundscapes have mainly focused on what kind of sounds that cause annoyance, or increase stress. Fewer have addressed the opposite: how may sound decrease perceived stress levels? Visual modality studies show a high correlation between preferred environments and their ability to reduce stress levels. Hypothetically the same should apply within the auditory modality. In order to study the possible effect of preferred sounds as a moderator for stress reduction: 24 participants were exposed to a stress inducing computer game and a subsequent rest while listening to either preferred or non-preferred sounds. The sounds were environmental sounds and rated by each participant in terms of preference before the experiment started. Experienced stress was measured right after the stress induction and after 20 minute long rests. The results show a significant decrease of perceived stress when exposed to preferred environmental sounds. When listening to the less preferred sounds during the rest there was no significant reduction of perceived stress. The results will be discussed in relation to theories of emoacoustics and attention restoration.