Aesthetic and affective effects of vocal and traffic noise on natural landscape assessment.

Jacob A. Benfield, Paul A. Bell, Lucy J. Troup, Nicholas C. Soderstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


National parks have mandates both to preserve and protect natural settings and to assist visitors in viewing and interacting with those settings. Considerable scholarship has examined the trade-offs between preservation and recreation goals, such as protection of a natural setting when some visitors want to experience it from noisy aircraft or ground vehicles. The current project expands on previous noise research that showed the presence of aircraft noise to be detrimental to aesthetic and affective environmental assessments. Participants rated 25 scenes under quiet conditions or while hearing 45 dB(A) or 60 dB(A) of either natural sounds (bird calls, breeze through foliage), natural sounds with aircraft sounds, natural sounds with ground traffic sounds, or natural sounds with human voices. Results indicated that the presence of any anthropogenic noise–air traffic, ground traffic, or voices–negatively impacted environmental assessments, and more so at louder levels, while the natural soundscape had little to no effect on assessments. Additionally, the presence of air traffic, ground traffic, and human voices significantly decreased participant ratings of serenity while also increasing ratings of hostility. These effects were strongest for scenes that were high in scenic beauty. Results are discussed in the context of sound quality management in national parks and other settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Noise
  • Affect
  • Scenic evaluation
  • Overflight
  • Park


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