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Performance, fatigue and stress in open-plan offices: the effects of noise and restoration on hearing impaired and normal hearing individuals
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering. (Environmental psychology)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6668-5044
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering. (Environmental psychology)
2012 (English)In: Noise & Health, ISSN 1463-1741, Vol. 14, no 60, 260-272 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Hearing impaired and normal hearing individuals were compared in two within-participant office noise conditions (high noise: 60 L Aeq and low noise: 30 L Aeq ). Performance, subjective fatigue, and physiological stress were tested during working on a simulated open-plan office. We also tested two between-participants restoration conditions following the work period with high noise (nature movie or continued office noise). Participants with a hearing impairment (N = 20) were matched with normal hearing participants (N = 18) and undertook one practice session and two counterbalanced experimental sessions. In each experimental session they worked for two hours with basic memory and attention tasks. We also measured physiological stress indicators (cortisol and catecholamines) and self-reports of mood and fatigue. The hearing impaired participants were more affected by high noise than the normal hearing participants, as shown by impaired performance for tasks that involve recall of semantic information. The hearing impaired participants were also more fatigued by high noise exposure than participants with normal hearing, and they tended to have higher stress hormone levels during the high noise compared to the low noise condition. Restoration with a movie increased performance and motivation for the normal hearing participants, while rest with continued noise did not. For the hearing impaired participants, continued noise during rest increased motivation and performance, while the movie did not. In summary, the impact of noise and restorative conditions varied with the hearing characteristics of the participants. The small sample size does however encourage caution when interpreting the results.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 14, no 60, 260-272 p.
Keyword [en]
hearing status, memory, emotion, physiology, open plan office
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-11204DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.102966ISI: 000311610100008PubMedID: 23117542Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84870000953OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-11204DiVA: diva2:472960
Available from: 2012-01-04 Created: 2012-01-04 Last updated: 2017-01-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Cognitive Performance and Restoration in Open-Plan Office Noise
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cognitive Performance and Restoration in Open-Plan Office Noise
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Kognitiv prestation och återhämtning under buller i kontorslandskap
Abstract [en]

This dissertation presents four experimental studies (in four papers) with the overall aim to investigate the effects of office noise on cognitive performance and restoration. In the first two papers the focus was on the effects of different sound levels (i.e., the mean level from all sound sources at an office, such as speech, phones, people walking) on performance, fatigue and stress. In the last two papers the focus was on the effects of background speech, as this has previously been shown to be the most disturbing noise source in open-plan offices. Paper I demonstrated decreased word memory performance, increased fatigue and motivational deficits when the background sound level increased by 12 dB, from 39 to 51 dB LAeq. Paper II showed that the sound level effects were more pronounced for individuals with a hearing impairment. Unexpectedly, no effects were found of acute noise exposure on the participant´s stress hormone levels (Paper I and Paper II).

          Regarding effects of irrelevant speech, Paper III showed that cognitive performance decreased as a function of background speech intelligibility, the higher the intelligibility depicted by the Speech Transmission Index (STI), the worse the performance. The results indicated that the STI-value must be less than 0.50, to avoid a negative influence on performance. Further, both Paper III and IV showed that performance is more impaired by background speech if the focal task requires episodic memory and rehearsal—such as word memory and information search. Interestingly, some tasks were insensitive for speech.

          The restorative effects of a break were addressed in Paper I and II (i.e., directly after the work sessions in noise). The break period differed in content between the participants. Paper I showed that a break with a nature movie with corresponding sound increased energy ratings compared to just listening to river sounds or office noise. Continued exposure to office noise gave the lowest ratings of motivation after the break. Paper II showed improved arithmetic performance and motivation after the break with a nature movie and decreased performance and motivation after continued noise exposure. For the hearing impaired participants, however, continued noise during the break increased motivation and performance, while the movie did not.

          Taken together, the current thesis demonstrates that open-plan office noise can have a negative impact on fatigue, motivation and performance. How much performance is impaired varies with the cognitive processes required by the tasks performed and hearing status. Moreover, continued noise exposure during a short break can further decrease motivation and subsequent performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2012. 136 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1544
National Category
Applied Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-13312 (URN)978-91-7439-495-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-11-23, Luleå, 11:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-11-12 Created: 2012-10-28 Last updated: 2017-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full textPubMedScopushttp://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2012/14/60/260/102966

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