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Population and Noise Density Paper

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Population Density and Noise Paper

Alycia Moss


January 4, 2012

Dr. Monetha Williams

Population Density and Noise Paper

Population density and noise can have a variety of effects on people. When privacy, personal space, and territory are infringed upon by other people or short-term or chronic noise, the effects can range from simple annoyance to severe intrusive anxiety-producing illness (Straub, 2007). While population density rises and privacy, personal space and territory are encroached, these accommodations need to be acknowledged in order to avoid the psychological effects of anxiety, frustration, aggression prevention and crowding.

Personal Space, Territory and Privacy

Personal Space

Personal space is the physical distance we choose by which to maintain interpersonal relationships (Hutchinson & Kowalski, 1999). Personal space and territoriality are two mechanisms for maintaining privacy. As defined by Sommer (1969) personal space is "an area with invisible boundaries surrounding a person's body into which intruders may not come" (p. 26). Altman (1981) suggests such space is changeable, similar to privacy, and varies between individuals, situations, and culture. Neuroscientific research claims personal space is created and mediated by the human brain, and although boundaries shift within circumstances, it is of value and consequence to all people (Kennedy, Gläscher, Tyszka, & Adolphs, 2009).


Human territoriality encompasses temporarily durable preventive and reactive behaviors including perceptions, use and defense of places, people, objects, and ideas by means of verbal, self-marker, and environmental prop behaviors in response to the actual or implied presence of others and in response to properties of the environment, and is geared to satisfying certain primary and secondary motivational states of individuals and groups (Edney, 1974, p. 963). Even though not typically survival based like in animal or creature territoriality, like the animals or creatures, we as people retain space by displaying behaviors to show that a specific space or area is already taken or being used by someone else. People have the ability to fight and show aggressive behavior, or other intrinsic responses to encroachment like a mother's instincts while pregnant, or after the birth. Research suggests it is important to emphasize ecological variables as major factors in determining territoriality and it becomes important to address the proclivity to defend resources as a factor of increasing human territoriality (Dyson-Hudson & Smith, 1978). As important and needed resources become limited, individuals try to guard personal space and properties.


Altman (1977) defines privacy as "selective control of access to the self or to one's group" (p. 67). Privacy involves control over information about oneself as well as control over interactions with others (Hutchinson & Kowalski, 1999). In contemporary society, new technologies raise concern about the control over the information of others, which has forced defining balance of privacy versus public information. Privacy needs and values vary between individuals and also between situations and cultures (Clayton & Myers, 2008).

Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space as Population Density Increases

Straub (2007) refers to a study by John Calhoun by which he experiments with population density within the living conditions of rats. In Calhoun's study, rats acted ordinary by all standards while there was plenty of space available, but when the population was increased, the rat's societal environment declined. The rats began to fight and eventually became territorial, baby rat death started to increase, reproduction declined, and some of the rats began to eat other rats. While these findings may not translate to human actions under like circumstances, population density can definitely have affects on all populations.

Population density have emotional impact people, and it also adds to the psychological effects of crowding where individuals feel restrained and restricted with a smaller amount of access to essential needs. Crowding has been linked to aggression, social withdrawal, increased criminal acts, and inappropriate social interaction (Stokols, 1972). To shrink the symptoms of crowding, it is important to maintain personal space and privacy, and respect territory as simple individual social needs. Since space resources are declining, individual space and individual privacy call for more acknowledgment to avoid psychological affects. Without privacy and personal space people tend to feel less control, more competition, and have an increased tendency to react negatively to minor annoyances (Straub, 2007).

Perception is an interesting factor of population density in that, if abundant space is available, the effects of crowding reduces. So, changing the perception of space is as powerful as actually creating more space. According to Straub (2007), the crowding effects of population density are not inevitable, and perhaps designing space in such a way to appear bigger than it actually is can affect psychological crowding. In any event, mitigating the perception of crowding is of consequence as space becomes a limited resource, and perceiving ample space has far-reaching effects on subjective well-being and health (Straub, 2007). When individuals perceive ample space, they report feeling a stronger sense of control over their environment and are less prone to anxiety and stress (Straub, 2007).

The Effect of Nature on Individuals Living in Urban Environments

Controlled natural environments, like green spaces, recreational and zoological parks generate support and societal background for interaction with nature. These sorts of interaction, do not just deliver interaction, it as well nurtures an ecological identity that is frequently inhibited in inner-city living conditions. Natural settings found within urban living areas encourage a perception that people should, and need to convene with nature. Maller et al. (2005), refer to beliefs promoted during the Civil War that claimed the influence of the natural environment on people's health reduced disease, promoted health, supported community health and reduced crime. Contemporary



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