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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 105  |  Page : 46--55

Short-term noise annoyance and electrodermal response as a function of sound-pressure level, cognitive task load, and noise sensitivity

1 Institut für Psychologie, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
2 Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat, Université de Lyon, France

Correspondence Address:
Wolfgang Ellermeier
Institut für Psychologie, TU Darmstadt, Alexanderstr. 10, 64283 Darmstadt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nah.NAH_47_19

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Introduction: Two aspects of noise annoyance were addressed in the present laboratory study: (1) the disturbance produced by vehicle pass-by noise while engaging in a challenging non-auditory task, and (2) the evaluative response elicited by the same sounds while imagining to relax at home in the absence of a primary activity. Methods and Material: In Experiment 1, N = 29 participants were exposed to short (3-6 s) pass-by recordings presented at graded levels between 50 and 70 dB(A). Concurrent with each sound presentation, they performed a visual multiple-object tracking task, and subsequently rated the annoyance of the sounds on a VAS scale. In Experiment 2, N = 30 participants judged the sounds while imagining to relax, without such a cognitive task. Results and Discussion: Annoyance was reduced when participants were engaged in the cognitively demanding task, in Experiment 1. Furthermore, when occupied with the task, annoyance slightly, but significantly increased with task load. Across both experiments, the magnitude of simultaneously recorded skin conductance responses in the first 1-4 s after the onset of stimulation increased significantly with sound pressure level. Annoyance ratings tended to be elevated across all sound levels, though significantly only in Experiment 2, in participants classified as noise sensitive based on a 52-item questionnaire. Conclusions: The results suggest that noise annoyance depends on the primary activity the listener is engaged in. They demonstrate that phasic skin conductance responses may serve as an objective correlate of the degree of annoyance experienced. Finally, noise sensitivity is once more shown to augment annoyance ratings in an additive fashion.


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