How Ambient Sound Affects You

We are immersed in ambient sound, but are generally not conscious of how such sound impacts on our well-being and behaviour. Julian Treasure provides a succinct illustration of just how influential our audible environment can be…

Taking Control Of The Noise

In this TED talk, Julian Treasure covers four areas in which sound influences humans – he defines these as physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioural.

Physiologically, sound can be used to enervate the body (as in the case with a loud alarm) or to soothe it.

Interestingly, the sound of waves lapping on a beach (which is very soothing) generally has a cycle of 12 per minute, which is about the same as the breathing cycle of a sleeping human.

Psychologically, certain sounds calm the system by tapping into our instincts – when birdsong is played, we tend to relax, as that is generally an indication that there are no predators nearby.

Sound can affect concentration also – Treasure asserts that working in an open plan office reduces productivity to a third, presumably as opposed to working on a beach by a bird sanctuary.

In terms of sound business, unpleasant music in retail stores prompts shoppers to leave more quickly – yet relatively few businesses consciously use music strategically to direct customer behaviour. This could be a niche for music producers to exploit…


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