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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 18  |  Page : 57--59

The concept of noise sensitivity : Implications for noise control

Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
A Smith
Centre for Occupational & Health Psychology, 63 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AS
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 12631438

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The term "noise sensitivity" is frequently used in many areas of noise research. However, it can be used to describe several different effects and it can be measured in different ways. In noise surveys, noise sensitivity refers to the fact that individuals differ in the annoyance produced by different sources of noise. Noise sensitivity can be viewed as an independent variable, which may be directly related to outcomes such as health status, or it can be conceptualized as a factor that modifies or mediates the effects of noise exposure on the outcome measure. Noise sensitivity is highly correlated with the general trait negative affectivity, a measure of the extent to which individuals perceive or report negative features of their environment or self. Indeed, few studies have demonstrated effects of noise sensitivity that are independent of negative affectivity. This implies that it is most appropriate to examine general indicators of reported sensitivity rather than a noise-specific measure. Noise sensitivity can also be considered in terms of physiological reactivity to noise sources. Such effects are often only weakly associated with self-reports of noise sensitivity. Habituation to noise is also an important topic to consider and again this appears to be largely independent of self-reported noise sensitivity. Overall, it would appear that it is important to distinguish between subjective reports of noise sensitivity and objective indicators. Different factors will modify these two aspects of noise sensitivity and this implies that different strategies are needed to influence them. Such effects must be taken into consideration when one considers whether control should be targeted at the community in general, or whether it should also cover the most sensitive individuals.


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