We live in a world that increasingly becoming crowded as the human population increases and people migrate to urban areas. With the rise in population density, the noise has also become commonplace for most people. The levels of population density and noise have some effects on the psychological health of an individual. This paper will analyze the effect of population density and noise on individuals and propose some strategies to reduce noise in the workplace and living environment.
Effects of High Population Density
By definition, population density is the number of unit people occupying a unit area of land (Giles-Corti, Ryan & Foster, 2012). High population densities are characterized by having a high number of people living or occupying limited space. The global community has witnessed an unprecedented rise in high-density settlements. This trend has continued, and many high-density cities are appearing all over the world. High-density conflicts with the innate territoriality of human beings. Giles-Corti et al. (2012) document that like creatures in the animal kingdom, people possess a sense of ownership over a place, and this sense is referred to as territoriality.
High population density also reduces the privacy that individuals have. In the population density context, privacy is the ability of an individual to control the degree to which others can access his/her personal space or property. Gifford, Steg, and Reser (2011) assert that privacy is of great importance to people since it increases the level of control an individual feels that he/she has over his life.
The personal space available to a person is diminished by crowding. Gifford, et al., (2011) define personal space as the area around a person that he/she defines as “his/her space.” The size of the personal space is influenced by many factors, including interpersonal relationships, cultural values, and physical space. When the population density is high, the frequency of personal space invasion increases.
A number of negative outcomes might be observed as the concepts of territoriality, privacy, and personal space are violated as the population becomes denser. Gifford et al., (2011) declare that the sensory overload and lack of personal control caused by crowding leads to many negative psychological outcomes. High densities might result in the development of negative behavior, such as aggression. The increase in aggressiveness occurs due to the breakdown in territoriality. Through aggression, the people in the high-density environment attempt to region control of some physical space.
High population density increases the need for privacy by individuals. Since the number of people around makes it hard for privacy to be easily enjoyed, individuals look for ways to protect themselves from intrusion. One way to achieve this is by limiting interactions with others. Research indicates that people in highly populated areas are more restrictive in their interactions with others compared to people in low population areas (Giles-Corti, et al., 2012).
Due to the shrinkage in personal space, people are forced to be in close proximity to others. This might result in anxiety since the close proximity is not pleasant to the individual. Heightened sense of anxiety has negative effects on a personal’s psychological wellbeing (Gifford, et al., 2011). The violation of personal space also increases the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. The person feels that he has no control over his environment, and this might result in stress.
Effect of Nature on Individuals
Living in large, high-density cities is a new phenomenon for human civilization. For thousands of years, people have lived in small low-density settlements. For this reason, cities can be termed as “unnatural” when compared to nature. Studies indicate that exposure to nature has a positive impact on city-dwellers. For these inhabitants of the high-density urban settlements, nature has the potential to act as a restorative agent in their lives. Gifford et al. (2011) hypothesize that nature does this by facilitating “cognitive freedom, ecosystem connectedness, escape, and a renewed social life” (p.458). Nature provides a break from the routine lives that many urban dwellers go through. This break can be rejuvenating as it provides relief from the daily stressors faced by the person.
Effects of Noise
Noise has become a defining feature of modern life. By definition, noise is any sound that is unneeded or unwanted by the individual (Goines & Hagler, 2007). There is a correlation between noise levels and population density. Noise intensity is higher in areas with higher population density compared to areas with lower densities. Noise has multiple adverse effects on the physical and psychological wellbeing of the person. To begin with, exposure to high volumes of noise for an extended amount of time can lead to hearing impairment. In addition to this, noise can cause headaches
High noise intensity results in a number of adverse mental effects. Prolonged exposure to noise can be a stressor in someone’s life, especially if the person has no control over the noise. Noise leads to the heightening of the annoyance levels experienced by a person. This happens when the noise is perceived as unnecessary or when the person believes that those responsible for the noise have no concern about the exposed people’s welfare. Goines and Hagler (2007) document that noise disturbances increase emotional instability and anxiety. Higher noise levels can result in sleep deprivation since the person is unable to sleep peacefully due to noise disturbance. Lack of quality sleep is associated with many negative outcomes, including stress, fatigue, and reduced feelings of wellbeing.
Noise Reduction Strategies
A number of noise reduction strategies can be employed to help mitigate the impact of noise. The first strategy is constructing houses with sound reduction in mind. Giles-Corti, et al. (2012) explain that residential buildings can be constructed with insulation that reduces the amount of noise transfer. This will ensure that the noise between the outdoor environment and the particular building is kept at a minimum. Noise between neighboring buildings or rooms is also reduced, therefore creating a conducive noise-free environment.
Another noise reduction strategy is to regularly engage in outdoor activities. Outdoor activities result in the person moving from a noisy environment to a quieter place. These activities might include hikes in the woods or visiting the local parks and zoos (Goines & Hagler, 2007). Such an approach will provide a person with the opportunity to escape from the noise and enjoy a relaxing break.
This paper set out to analyze the effects of population density and noise on an individual. It began by noting that there has been a sharp rise in population density as the population of cities and urban areas increases. The paper has demonstrated that while human beings are social creatures, personal space and privacy are important for a person’s mental wellbeing. When privacy and personal space is invaded, negative psychological outcomes occur. The paper has also reviewed the negative impacts of noise on human wellbeing and proposed some strategies to deal with noise.
Gifford, R., Steg, L., & Reser, J. (2011). The IAAP Handbook of Applied Psychology. NY: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Giles-Corti, B., Ryan, K., & Foster, S. (2012). Increasing density in Australia: maximising the health benefits and minimising harm. Sydney: National Heart Foundation of Australia.
Goines, L., & Hagler, L. (2007). Noise Pollution: A Modem Plague. Southern Medical Journal, 100(3), 287-294.