The effects of expectation on the perception of soundscapes

Bruce, NS 2011, The effects of expectation on the perception of soundscapes , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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This thesis discusses how expectation is a contributory factor in the perception of soundscapes. "Soundscape" is a term attributed to R.Murray Schafer to define the acoustic environment, a recent ISO workgroup has proposed a formal definition as the "perception and understanding of an acoustic environment, in context, by the individual, or by a society" As such there is a move away from traditional acoustic methods of understanding environmental sound towards a more holistic, and interdisciplinary, approach to the sound environment. Previous soundscape research has identified the importance of semantic meaning attributed to soundscapes focusing on investigating linguistic and textual approaches of how people describe the soundscape. This thesis aims to extend the concept of meaning to give an insight into what particular soundscapes mean to people, and if this related to a predefined expectation based on context. This work expands Truax's notion of soundscape competence, and investigates how people perceive the soundscape. In particular how expectation of a particular space impacts on the perception of that space. This in turn addresses the issue of defining a context for a space and understanding how the soundscape is of importance to perception of spaces. The research which forms this work uses a number of interdisciplinary methods, from the fields of acoustics, social science and psychology, with the aim of developing a new qualitative and quantitative methodology for soundscape research. The work consists of qualitative fieldwork, and the development of a soundscape simulator in the laboratory. Through the use of an enhanced version of soundwalking, participants were asked questions aimed to analyse their pre-determined environmental expectation and their actual experience of a number of different spaces, and how this impacts on their perception and evaluation of the soundscape. The soundscape simulator was a tool by which participants could control and design their own soundscapes, whilst providing useful quantitative and qualitative data about choices made in the design process. Soundscape expectation is shown to relate not only to competence in perceiving the components of the soundscape but also to attitudes towards safety, social norms, accepted behaviour, visual aesthetics and control attributed to the space. Expectation based on competence forms the basis of place expectation or context, and relates to the overall perception of the soundscape for each space. When one or more of these factors conflict with a perceived place expectation, then perception of the soundscape becomes more important and impacts on the perception of the space. This work concludes that the meaning of a soundscape and its perception is related to an individual's expectation of the context of a space.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Davies, WJ (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Computing, Science and Engineering
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 13:34
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:06

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