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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
VANORDEN, C. R. (2005). Effects of Annoying Noise on Quantitative and Analytical Test Taking. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 8. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 26, 2023 .

Effects of Annoying Noise on Quantitative and Analytical Test Taking

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
Many studies have been done over noise annoyance. Several of the studies chose steady and low sounds to be annoying. A higher-pitched, scratching sound was used for VanOrden’s experiment. In it, two groups of college students were given brief, quantitative and analytical tests. During testing, one of the groups was exposed to the scratching sound repeatedly, by means of classroom loudspeakers. Due to time constraints, the tests ended up being too brief for a significant difference to present itself. Results showed no performance difference related to the annoying noise.

Numerous experiments have been done over environmental noise and cognitive tasks. Most times, experimenters acquire insignificant results due to their low intensity sound levels and their use of exceedingly plain sounds. But what is the difference between a plain and annoying sound? Landstrom (1995) states there are no consensus on how the concept of annoyance should be defined or of how its response should be measured. The core meaning seems to be that annoyance stands for the strength of unwantedness of the sound. So for my experiment, I decided to use the sound of someone scratching a chalkboard, since I find that sound to be very unwanted by most people. I believed that sound would be annoying enough to make a significant negative impact on my participants. Arnoult (1986) did a study, which consisted of four experiments. In each experiment, subjects were sent to cubical-like booths. They were then assigned to one of three sound levels of jet noise or helicopter noise. There was also a no noise group used as a control. The first experiment gave subjects intelligibility, matching, verbal, and arithmetic problems to complete while being subjected to the noise. The intelligibility task ended up being the only one who received significant results. The second experiment gave subjects intelligibility, comparison, and analogy type problems. Arnoult measured response time and accuracy. Subjects responded most quickly to sentence intelligibility tasks, and most slowly to arithmetic checking tasks. There were no significant differences in any of the cognitive tasks other than the individual differences among subjects. In the third and fourth experiment, subjects were given either intelligibility, matching, verbal, or arithmetic problems, and then told to rate the annoyingness of the helicopter or jet plane noise. Annoyingness ratings systematically increased with increased loudness. The average rated annoyingness of the helicopter noise was higher than for jet noise. The mean difference between the two sounds was not significant. The highest rated annoyingness occurred in the intelligibility task, the lowest rating occurred in the matching tasks. In his discussion, Arnoult concluded that the loudness levels were too low in concern for the welfare of his subjects. I concluded that aircraft noise is too low and steady. Vastfjall (2002) found that many people have studied noise annoyance, but very few had studied an individual’s current mood with it. The most current research on noise perception showed that affective reactions to auditory events are caused by both noise characteristics and personality traits. So Vastfjall decided to study annoyance reactions to everyday noise in participants who were slightly annoyed or in a neutral affective state. He started by recruiting 44 undergraduates from Chalmers and Goteborg University. He separated participants into two groups: the annoyance group and the neutral mood group. Both groups were given mood induction tasks. The annoyance group was given instructions to recall, step by step, a memory from their lives in which they experienced extreme annoyance and irritation. The neutral mood group was told to read affect-neutral statements such as “Paris is the capital of France.” After the mood inductions, groups were given instructions on how to use the Swedish extended version of the Weinstein Noise Sensitivity Scale. The 9-step scale contained 16 items reflecting general attitudes toward noise. It assessed noise annoyance as well as preference for noise. Participants could indicate any number between 1 (not at all annoyed/do not like this sound at all) and 9 (extremely annoyed/like this sound very much). Then the sound was played. It was a one-minute binaural recording of a hand-held machine saw. Participants were asked to rate annoyance and preference. Vastfjall submitted annoyance and preference ratings to separate analysis of variance, with mood induction and noise sensitivity as between-subjects variables. The results were the same for both. The ANOVA for annoyance yielded a main effect of mood induction, but the main effect of noise sensitivity did not reach significance. The Mood Induction x Noise Sensitivity interaction was significant. This indicated an overall effect of current mood on both annoyance and preference ratings. Participants who were already annoyed rated themselves as more annoyed than did participants who were in a neutral affective state. The results suggest that current mood influences reactions and evaluations of auditory stimuli. This made me realize the possibility of giving my subjects mood induction tasks prior to the tests to put them in neutral affective states. Landstrom, Kjellberg, and Bystrom (1995) did an experiment where they subjected groups of subjects to 1000 Hz broadband noise in a sound chamber. The subjects took reaction time and grammatical reasoning test while being exposed to either continuous sound or repetitive sound. During work, subjects adjusted the sound level to “the threshold of annoyance.” Afterwards, subjects rated the difficulty of each task, with both types of sound. The results showed that the threshold of annoyance was lower for repetitive sound than continuous sound, in both tasks (the difference was more pronounced in grammatical tasks). Also, expenditure of effort was rated as much higher for the grammatical reasoning task. This shows that I should use analytical and quantitative tasks to try to make participants expend more effort. It also shows that I should use repetitive sounds for my annoying noise.

Participants In this study I used two classes of Psychology 200 students from Missouri Western State University. The first class was the control, and consisted of 16 students. The second class was the experimental group, which consisted of 20 students.Materials The control group and experimental group were each given two tests: one quantitative, the other analytical. The quantitative test consisted of five questions taken from the sample GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). The analytical test consisted of four questions also taken from the sample GRE. Classroom loudspeakers, a sound clip of some scratching a chalkboard, and a stopwatch were also used in the experiment. Procedure The control group was tested under normal test taking sound levels. Participants were given the quantitative test first. They had five minutes to complete it. Everyone started at the same time. Once the five minutes were up, participants were told to stop, and the test was collected. Participants were then given the analytical test. They had four and a half minutes to complete it. Everyone started at the same time. Once the time was up, participants were told to stop, and the test was collected. The experimental group used the same procedure, but was subjected to the sound clip. The scratching sound was repeated loudly over the classroom speakers for the entirety of the both tests.

An independent t-test was conducted comparing quantitative and analytical test scores of the experimental and control group. For the quantitative test, no significant difference was found (t(34)=.192, p=.849), with the experimental group scoring higher (M=1.7, s=.92) than the control group (M=1.6, s=1.4). For the analytical test, no significant difference was found (t(34)=.295, p=.77), with the control group scoring higher (M=2.0, s=.92) than the experimental group (M=1.9, s=1.2). On the quantitative test, participants in the no noise group (control) did slightly worse than the annoying noise group (experimental). On the analytical test, participants in the annoying noise group (experimental) did slightly worse.

I found that my annoying noise did not make a “real” difference in the participants test taking. Both pairs of means were almost identical, with the no noise group actually scoring slightly lower on the quantitative test. This probably happened for a few reasons. The first reason would be that I only have four to five questions on each test. The lack of questions made it very hard for the pairs of means to be distinct since they did not really leave a chance for a difference. Due to time constraints, I could not make either test any longer. Another reason was the fact that my scratching noise became dull and monotonous after the first couple minutes. Running the sound on a loop made it become almost rhythmic. Participants probably had an easy time adjusting to the scratching sound. Due to time constraints, I was unable to try mood induction prior to my test. Most instructors would not appreciate me taking up an entire class period to run a study on annoyance, especially when my design was flawed. Maybe in the future, I will do an experiment closer to Vastfjall’s design: less flawed and more based on mood induction.

Arnoult, M. D. (1986). Annoyingness of aircraft noise in relation to cognitive activity. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 63, 599-616.Landstrom, U., Kiellberg, A. & Bystrom, M. (1995). Acceptable levels of tonal and broadband repetitive and continuous sounds during the performance of nonauditory tasks. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 81, 803-816.Vastfjall, D. (2002). Influences of current mood and noise sensitivity on judgments of noise annoyance. The Journal of Psychology, 136, 357-370.

Quantitative Test1. (19-18-17-16) – (20-19-18-17) =

A) -36B) -6C) -4D) 1E) 2

2. If 3x – 2 = 7, then 4x =

A) 3B) 5C) 20/3D) 9 E)12

3. The dots on the graph above indicate age and weight for a sample of 25 students. What percent of these students are less then 19 years old and weigh more than 110 lbs

A) 36%B) 40%C) 44%D) 48%E) 52%

4. The greatest number of diagonals that can be drawn from one vertex of a regular 6-sided polygon is

A) 2B) 3C) 4D) 5E) 6

5. The cost in dollars, of manufacturing x refrigerators is 9000 + 400x. The amount received when selling these x refrigerators is 500x dollars. What is the least number of refrigerators that must be manufactured and sold so that the amount received is at least equal to the manufacturing cost?

A) 10B) 18C) 45D) 90E) 100

Analytical Test Each of six automated tasks, numbered 1 through 6, takes one full hour to complete. No time elapses between the completion of any of the six tasks and the beginning of another task. The group of six tasks must be completed in the shortest possible time period, subject only to the following restrictions:

Tasks 1 and 2 must both be completed before any of the other tasks can begin.Task 3 must be completed before 4 can begin.At any one time, no more than one task can be performed, except that tasks 4 and 5 can be performed concurrently.

1. Which of the following tasks could be the second task performed? A) 2B) 3C) 4D) 5E) 6

2. The shortest possible time period in which the group of six tasks can be completed is:

A) two hoursB) three hoursC) four hoursD) five hoursE) six hours

3. If task 6 is performed as early in the order of tasks as is permissible, then task 6 is performed A) firstB) secondC) thirdD) fourthE) fifth

4. Two suits of battle armor worn by King Henry VIII were discovered, one from the beginning of his reign in 1510 and the other from 1540. Although both suits of armor were made for Henry VIII, the 1540 suit of armor was 40 pounds heavier than the 1510 suit of armor.

Which of the following, if true, contributes LEAST to an explanation of the discrepancy described above?

A) Henry, although slim at the beginning of his reign, developed a bulky figure because of massive weight gain.B) During his reign Henry increased his arsenal of weapons because, despite his popularity in 1510, by 1540 the English populace was becoming disenchanted with his rule.C) Although the style of armor was plain and severe in the of Henry’s reign, he started the fashion of decorating armor with heavy and elaborate metal pieces because of his love for onrnamentation.D) Henry ascended the throne while still an adolescent and grew 3 inches during his first five years.E) Because of the improved design of battle weaponry during the 1530’s, armor was given a multilayered design so that the sharper and stronger weapons could not pierce it.

Submitted 12/15/2005 11:12:43 AM
Last Edited 12/15/2005 11:51:41 AM
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