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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 66  |  Page : 355--366

Patterns of physiological and affective responses to vehicle pass-by noises

Institute of Occupational and Social Medicine, Medical Department, Heinrich-Heine University, Duesseldorf, Germany

Correspondence Address:
Gert Notbohm
Heinrich-Heine Universität, 40204 Duesseldorf
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Source of Support: Financial grant by EUGT e.V. Berlin (Europäische Forschungsvereinigung für Umwelt und Gesundheit im Transportsektor e.V.)., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.116585

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Traffic noise is considered causing annoyance and severe health effects like cardiovascular disease (CVD). The present laboratory study examines the importance of individual factors, namely age, gender and personality traits on short term physiological and affective response to vehicle pass-by noises. Four groups of subjects (20-30 vs. 40-55 year-old male or female, n = 66 in total) were exposed to a series of vehicle pass-by noises. Physiological responses (finger-pulse amplitude [FPA], skin conductance level [SCL]) were registered during the exposure; affective responses and judgements regarding the sounds were assessed by questionnaires. Noise sensitivity and sensation seeking were measured by validated questionnaires. The results show different patterns of response depending on age, gender and personality. The strongest sympathetic stress reaction as measured by SCL was found for the older female group. In regression analysis, the SCL response was predicted by the female gender and low score of sensation seeking only (adjusted R2 = 0.139). The FPA response was strongest among the young men and age was the only significant predictor. For affective responses of pleasantness and activation, regression analysis proved noise sensitivity and sensation seeking to be significant predictors (adjusted R2 = 0.187 respectively 0.154). Age, gender and personality influence physiological and affective reactions to traffic noise, which might affect health conditions. Especially, a potential risk of older women for CVD owing to noise should be investigated further. Individual sensitiveness in terms of noise sensitivity or sensation seeking proves to be important for explaining differences in response to noise.


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