While there is still so much to learn about sound, science tells us that it has a major impact on our minds, bodies, souls, and consequently behaviours.
Sound is everywhere and we are immersed in it. Whether in the form of noise or music compositions, it can move and affect us on multiple levels and a wide variety of situations.
Exposing ourselves to certain sounds for long and regular periods of time can have an impact on our health - positive and negative.
Stansfield (2016) reports that noise exposure can increase stress levels leading to physiological arousal, such as raised heart rate and blood pressure, as well as anxiety.
You may have heard of misophonia, a condition that sees individuals 'being emotionally affected by common sounds — usually made by others, ones that other people don’t tend to pay attention to'. For these people, an estimate of 20% worldwide, such sounds - think of chewing, yawning, or breathing - can trigger involuntary reactions, from influencing their ability to carry out simple tasks to extreme anger and a desire to escape (Wu, et al., 2014).
Did you know that our reaction times to sound are about 30 milliseconds faster than reaction times to visuals (Johnson et al., 1985)? This means that our instinctive emotional responses to sound happen before we consciously become aware of what the sound is, where it's coming from, etc.
A brilliant study by Made Music Studio revealed a strong correlation - 86% - between our emotional subconscious response to sound and our conscious predisposition to engage with an associated event or avoid it in the future.
Science doesn't lie; by disregarding the importance of sound in your environment, you could lead a large number of people to want to give up on the experience altogether.
Sound can help shape human experiences and could therefore be used to positively impact the world we live in. From our daily routines, such as spending time at our workplace, where noise exposure and lack of control over sound can increase job dissatisfaction (Lee, et al., 2015), to the activities we engage with in our spare time, such as wellness, travel, and entertainment - sound can make a real difference to our well-being.
Here at Open Ear, we firmly believe in the power of sound and its capability to help shape the present and future of human experiences.