Effects of Population Density and Noise on Individuals

The world and country’s population is growing and so is its impact on people. This increase in population density has led to an increase in pollution, including noise pollution, and a need to redefine related terms such as privacy, personal space, and territory.Most people overlook the effects that noise, short-term or prolonged, might have on them. However, the effects of noise pollution can range from amodestirritation to a severe illness (Straub, 2006). This paper assessesprivacy, territory, and personal space concepts, the consequences of noise pollution, factors that influence a region’s population density, and finally establish strategies that can be used to reduce noise pollution.

Understanding Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space Privacy


Territory suggests governing the space around a person, which denotes the distance between them and others. Human territorial behavior involves preventive and reactive actions that are aimed at satisfying individual’s motivational states (Brown, 2010). Although Human territorial behavioris not usually survival based like it is in other animals’, human beings portray actions and behaviors, which suggest that a particular space is in use thus helping maintain space.

Human territory can be categorized into three domains including primary, secondary and public territories (Maller et al., 2006).Primary territories are private permanent spaces such as a person’s home, secondary territories are borrowed private places such as an individual’s workstation, andpublic territories are places where one maintains their personal privacy but accepts infringements more easily such as in shopping malls (Maller et al., 2006).


Territorial behaviors are mainly intended to help maintain privacy. Territorial boundaries help in determining the level of privacy expected with in primary territory, a person could expect more privacy than they would in secondary or public territories. According to Altman (1981) privacy is the selective resistor of access to a person or a group. Privacy encompasses control over both information relating to an individual and their interactions with others (Brown, 2010).  Different individuals have varying privacy needs depending on factors such as situations and cultures. New technologies available today raise concerns about the control one has over information relating to others, which has resulted to the need to demarcate the difference between privacy and public information.

Personal Space

Just like territoriality, personal space is a mechanismthat individuals employ in their effort to maintain privacy.Personal space is described as the physical distance that individuals choose to keep and maintain in interpersonal relationships (Altman, 1981). According toBurgoon, personal space is the area surrounding a person that he/she regards as an extension of himself/ herself and thus may not intruded without the protagonist’s consent (Burgoon, 1978). Personal space needs are variable from one individual to the other as they are greatly influenced by personalities, culture, and situations.

Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space as Population Density Increases

John Calhoun conducted an experiment to test the impact of increasing population density among rats. He observed that the rats’ social environment deteriorated with increase in population. The rats were normal and peaceful when they had ample space but they fought and became more territorial when they were clouded (Straub, 2006). Additionally, there was a decline in productivity and infant mortality rate increased. Although human beings may not portray these behaviors once subjected to similar conditions, it does demonstrate that population density affects inhabitants.

Population density affects individuals psychologically where it makes them feel confined and makes them feel as if they have limited access to provisions. Crowding is linked to anti social behavior including withdrawal, aggression, and criminal activities among others (Burgoon, 1978). Promoting territoriality, privacy, and personal space helps restore the feeling of control, reduce competition and ultimately reduce these negative behavior caused by crowding. It can thus be concluded that increase in population density results to crowding, which in turn increases the need for greater acknowledgement of territoriality, privacy and personal space (Straub, 2006).

The Effect of Nature on Individuals Living in Urban Environments 

Natural settings found in urban areas, including parks and zoos, fosters an environment that encourages individuals to interact with nature. Such interactions provide interaction while nurturing the environment’s identity that is usually constrained in urban living settings. Natural environments are usually calm, allowing individuals to unwind, Maller even claimed that such environments reduce occurrence of certain diseases thus improving people’s health (Maller et al., 2006). He also argued that natural settings within urban centers reduced crime, a view that was seconded by Clayton and Myers (2008), who observed that crime rates are lower among individuals living near a natural setting.

Noise and its Effects on Individuals 

Over the years, health psychologists have researched the effects chronic noise has on human beings and found that it has several damaging impacts including raising blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced learning aptitude (Straub, 2006). These effects are especially evident among children who are still acquiring maladaptive skills as noise makes them block specific stimuli (Straub, 2006). Verbal skills are decreased because when children block noise they are likely to block verbal elements as well.

Other negative effects of chronic noise can also decrease memory and the ability to perform tasks Straub (2006).  Noise can increase stress levels, lack of sleep and affect personal attitude hence having a direct effect on individuals’ health (Brown, 2010).
Noise Reduction Strategies

With ever increasing populations and noise comes the need to combat noise pollution is no easy task. There is no way to escape noise pollution so individuals have to find a way to control it. With the increase in transportation and industry we must find a way to reduce the level of noise produced while stil maintaining productivity of both.

Fabric Placement as a Noise Mediator

The first and basic way that to can reduce noise in their homes is by installing additional fabric over the house windows, such as stuffed furnishings or wall décor. Glass allows noise to pass through much more easily than insulated walls do thus by covering glass windows, one would reduce the amount of noise entering the house significantly. Additionally, carpeting stifles and absorbs noise better than conventional hard floors that increase sound waves as they bounce off the floor (Burgoon, 1978).

Auditory Masking for Noise Reduction 

Auditory masking is reducing the sensitivity of one sound by introducing another sound, usually referred to as white noise. Masking can either be simultaneous or non simultaneous (Hashmi, 2006). White noise masks other sound waves in the environment and is ideal for use in a home setting where individuals want to block out intrusive noise (Burgoon, 1978). Sound masking machines include radios, music systems, and televisions among others. Other noise masks would be familiar noises such as one made by a fan or similar consistent sounds that can block noise effectively.

Human beings are affected by a number of environmental factors including noise pollution, population density and perceptions of space. Territoriality, privacy and personal space are greatly influenced by personal choice and personal perceptions of the need and usage of space. Although the psychological outcomes of these perceptions vary from one individual to the other, crowding affects all human beings negatively regardless of their views. In modern settings, crowding leads to aggressive behavior, reduced productivity, poor academic performance, withdrawal and other anti social behavior is observed (Hashmi, 2006). Intrusive noise can have different levels of annoyance, from slight to severe, depending on how the protagonist perceives the intrusion (Straub, 2006). Noise reduction strategies can be very helpful in reducing this annoyance and should be considered especially when the protagonist has little or no control over chronic noise.

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