The light- and soundscape in our lives

There are several doctoral studies made, and study disciplines, into the psychological world of how light and sound affects us. Indoors and outdoors. How these have effect on our mood, well-being, behavior and performance. Performance, as in creativeness,  endurance at work or in studies.

One very interesting area within these studies is Restoration – how well and soon we bounce back from fatigue. Restoration can be measured. How to measure, is in itself a huge field of study. How to go about to standardize measurements with sufficiently acceptable and reliable factors.

We are humans, and we operate in various ways. Also, we are perceived to operate in various ways. If to present the result of a study, we have a Perceived Restorativeness Scale (PRS). (Hartig, colleagues 1997)

Restoration studies have been made through interviews based on questionnaires. One factor of restoration is very relevant in these studies – our degree of Attention. When we give something our full attention, versus when can take no more. Being fresh in mind, vs depleted. In brief, this is Attention Restoration Theory (ART).

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ART gives the basis to the above mentioned scale, of how to measure the presence of 4 (theoretical) restorative factors:

The questionnaires have four key categories of questions. The components of the restoratory experience is abbreviated FACE. Fascination – interest given and stimulus created to something, without effort. Being Away – being distracted from everyday routines. Compatibility – connecting to the environment of where one prefers to be. Extent – a space that is homogeneous and takes you away from everyday grayness. (Kaplan 1983)

The factors of how we operate, being much based on our sensors, is quite theoretical. Therefore, a researcher may utilize the Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). Here the hypothetical factors, is first tested in order to validate the model. For example, if any of the factors overlap, thus creating a statistical disturbance.

How we differ, the analysis of variance, is called ANOVA. This is especially useful in statistical mean variation between and within groups.

A particularly interesting study of the effect of urban street lighting on people is made by H. Nikunen, titled “Perceptions of lighting, perceived restorativeness, preference and fear in outdoor spaces”.

Another study, located indoors and adding the factor of noise, is made by S. Payne and C. Guastavino, titled “Measuring the perceived restorativeness of soundscapes: is it about the sounds, the person, or the environment?” Central is PRSS, the Perceived Restorativeness Soundscape Scale.

About the author

Martin R.C. Andersson is an engineer with a soft spot for project management.
With a keen interest in room treatment through sound and light control,
always looking to tweak for that noise-free listening… to be a norm.
Values silence, and now and then some solitude.
Thinks Mindfulness is a state of being when work really gets done – well done.
When thoughts flow – without disruption – to reach a creative state or finish what’s at hand.

When the outside world is tuned out, and performance is tuned in.
Feels best when Minimalism, Functionalism and Art come together, crossing their paths.

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