psychological acoustics: how sound affects mood

SonaSpray fcx acoustic spray used throughout HIDE restaurant - Credit to Andrew Meredith Photography.

Whether at work, at school or out socialising, the volume of noise we’re exposed to has the potential to impact our mood. Noise pollution is capable of disrupting focus and hindering our ability to communicate, but it can also have both short and long-term effects on our mental health. This is why it’s so important for building owners to think about the psychological impact of acoustics.

In this article, we’re going to cover psychological acoustics in detail, discussing the impact of noise on our mood, designing acoustics for mental wellbeing and more. Read on to find out.

dMFK Architects choose SonaSpray K-13 acoustic ceiling spray in grey for its London HQ office. Photo by Killian O’Sullivan.

the impact of noise on our mood

Even if we don’t realise it, sound impacts how we feel. Music might make us feel euphoric by stimulating the release of dopamine from our brains, whereas a sudden loud bang can trigger our fight or flight reflex and startle us. On a subtler level, even the way that sound waves reflect off different surfaces can change our emotional state.

Rooms with poor acoustics will have high levels of reverberation, making speech harder to make out and potentially leading to frustration and distress. This is backed up by research in our whitepaper, Office Noise, where we found that 43% of office staff had been left feeling irritated and less focused due to noise.

The impact can be compounded if people raise their voice to be heard, creating a louder, more stressful environment. Spaces where proper consideration isn’t given to the psychological effects of acoustics creates particular challenges for those with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia or Tourette’s syndrome.

Excess noise distracts people, making it harder to focus and complete tasks. It can also impact mental health, as studies have shown noise pollution can induce anxiety, depression and even memory loss.

acoustics & psychology: designing for mental wellbeing

For anyone who spends a lot of time in spaces with poor acoustics, there can be serious implications. Employees in the office or kids and teachers in the classroom could all see their mental health suffer if consideration isn’t given to acoustic balance.

There are several different ways building owners can alter acoustics to influence mood and boost mental wellbeing and concentration. The reverberating impact of hard reflective surfaces can be reduced by soft furnishings, which absorb sound waves and can create a calmer acoustic atmosphere.

This can also be achieved with acoustic wall panels, but these solutions naturally have an impact on the aesthetic appeal of a space and can pose logistical problems if it’s later decided that a room needs to be reconfigured.

SonaSpray fcx acoustic spray used throughout HIDE restaurant – Credit to Andrew Meredith Photography.

using SonaSpray to improve the psychological effect of acoustics

Premium acoustic sprays and plasters like Oscar Acoustics’ range of SonaSpray products could provide the answer to improving the psychological effects of acoustics. Due to its seamless finish, SonaSpray can be applied quickly to a variety of surfaces without impacting on the style or calmness of a space.

With SonaSpray, calming interior design and tranquil acoustics can work hand in hand to maximise mental wellbeing.

putting psychological acoustics into action

There are numerous visual tricks building owners and specifiers use to encourage calm and relaxed feelings in a space, such as with their choice of wall colours. Awareness around the importance of using acoustic products to achieve the same effect is far lower; there have even been instances where employees have lashed out due to sound-related stress at work.

In Office Noise, we outlined some of the steps building owners can take to benefit from quality noise control, creating tranquil spaces which prioritise mental wellbeing without sacrificing any visual design elements.

Download our ‘Office Noise’ Whitepaper.

contact us

If you’re still unsure about psychological acoustics, our acoustic experts will be more than happy to assist with your query. Contact us today to start improving the wellbeing in your spaces.

SonaSpray fc used throughout the five-star Hilton London Bankside near Tate Modern & The Shard – Credit to Jack Hardy Photography.

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