Sound Economy Series: 4 Ways Sound Affects Us


Sound effects us in many ways, though it’s usually very unconscious. That’s why there is no point researching environmental sound or music by asking people what they think of the sounds around them. In most cases, they won’t have noticed these surrounding sounds until you ask – and when you crystallize their perception by asking they will form an instant opinion that probably has nothing to do with the way the sound was affecting them before they noticed it. So although unconscious, the effects of sound are great.

Firstly, sounds have physiological effects. Sudden noises can make our brain release cortisol and more gentle ones make us relax.

Secondly, music has psychological effects. This means that it powerfully affects our mood.

That’s why, and not so surprisingly, sound also affects our behavior. We generally move away from the unpleasant sound and towards the pleasing sound. That’s why it is important to understand, what people unconsciously consider as pleasant music for example when shopping or eating out.

Finally, noise reduces productivity down to one-third of what it would be in a quiet room. This doesn’t apply to creative processes, or to repetitive or boring work with no mental connections to be made. But depending on the task at hand background sounds can greatly increase or decrease your productivity.

What is interesting is that the vast majority of sound around us is unintentional. That’s because most organizations are unconscious about the sound they are making – and as a result, much of it is damaging them and impeding their progress toward their goals.

So not so surprisingly, sound is the largest unexplored territory in the world of multi-sensory branding.

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