Sound, Smell & Color Intelligence: The Impact of Country Living vs. City Living on Perception


Sound, Smell & Color Intelligence: The Impact of Country Living vs. City Living on Perception

1. Introduction

This study will examine the indications of rich complex perception environments by comparing and contrasting the empirical observations of individuals living in city and country environments. The five senses that humans possess are incredible tools available for taking in information and interacting with the environment. Most of the time, individuals take the five senses for granted; however, they are of utmost importance in understanding how a person interacts with their surroundings. The three examples of empirical data that will be considered in relation to the five senses are as follows: the impact of country living on perception, the impact of country living on sound identification and localization, and the impact of country living on smell and taste identification. Finally, these three examples will illustrate that humans living in instinctive acoustic and olfactory environments are constantly developing rich implicit knowledge about those environments. This project has potential importance for the field of soundscape research because it is suggesting that people living in different environments have different perceptions about the same sounds. It also has relevance and a 'real world' connotation to numerous programs of environment conservation and improvement. This study will also reveal the difficulties in quantifying the sounds and smells that people experience in their everyday lives. This study is only scratching the surface of the interactions between various environments and the impact they have on an individual's senses and perception.

2. Differences in Sound Perception

Loud, monotonous noises from traffic and chaos of people tend to invoke frustration among country dwellers. Korpela (1989) showed that city people often take their working environment sounds to their free-time places (as cited in Payne, 2002). They try to make an escape from these noises by seeking areas with quietness and solitude such as dense forests or shoreline. Over 80% of all rural development in the USA has occurred within 5 kilometers of a forest, due to this reason. Sounds of independence such as a steam engine, hammering and whistling which often take place in rural environments are used as contented examples where city artisans often involved these sounds to the sound of a construction site which deemed as annoyance. These findings support the Unger and Wandersman (1985) model where people make a cognitive comparison of an environment against a standard and if they perceive greater differences they are more likely to move to that environment (as cited in Payne, 2002). The most basic and universal level of comparison is known as person-environment (PE) fit which often revolves around individual personality, on the occasions where rural environments cater towards quietness, solitude and independence, these are PE fits for city dwellers and may not universally apply to all rural inhabitants. Another study by Korpela (1989) showed that the most prevalent sound experienced in each environment was specific to birds for a rural area and traffic for a city area, thus, further supporting the idea of sound being an environmental cue to denote PE fit (as cited in Payne, 2002). Over recent years studies have been conducted that suggest bird song has a positive effect on the mental state and health of individuals and some bird species are used as an indicator to the quality of environment. Simonsson (2002) showed that in a comparison of bird sounds to traffic sounds, bird sounds came out top as a stress alleviator for people and the same comparison was found between nature and urban sounds garnering same results. In cognitive terms, nature sounds are more relaxing and more likely to evoke attention restoration and stress reduction due to ancient evolutionary relevance of humans' origin environment (Laumann et al., 2003). (Carlson et al.2022)(Piffer et al.2022)(Nambiar)

3. Variations in Smell Perception

Due to the spread of pollution into rural areas, it is not to say that country air is not sometimes tainted with the smell of car fumes. This is the most common form of air pollution, and those who have grown up in cities are oblivious to it as a prominent smell of their surroundings. It is likely that a student would argue that cornfields smell of nothing, but this is due to the fact that it is a faint sweet smell, one which they are unaccustomed to picking up, and they have never stuck their face in a heap of silage to take a big sniff. By contrast, the negative impact of this smell will lead to a view shared by the majority of townspeople, particularly students, who believe that smelly farmyard animal aromas are the very essence of country air. This is extremely difficult for a city dweller to identify with. They have never smelled horse manure, and aside from catching a whiff of it at the circus, it is not likely that they will. Therefore, the negative connotation of this smell will not exist. Suggesting that they may even like the smell of country air better, no doubt falling back on what it is they have been conditioned to crave.

4. Effects of Color Perception

The concept of color temperature can be related to the thought of country living versus city living. The theory is that perceptions of temperature in a scene can actually skew the way the temperature is perceived. A scene bathed in reds and yellows can appear warmer than it actually is, and a scene with blues can appear cooler. This is a stark contrast to the two environments, the city with an abundance of material that reflects warm colors and the countryside with a more luscious green/blue scene. A study has also been done on saturation and the excitement of a stimulus; it was found that a black and white picture of a highly saturated stimulus was rated more exciting than the same picture in color. This, however, is inconclusive as with individual preference, the excitement of a stimulus is based on cultural and psychological background with no specific relation to the saturation of a stimulus. It was not until recently that an understanding of the psychological effects of color has been developed; it is partly due to the abstract nature of the topic. Color preference changes with age; as with children, there is a higher preference for the deeper, more intense colors compared to adults who prefer more complex colors. On the opposite end of the age scale, there are changes in an individual's color preference as they change through life. It was found that after the age of 65, there is a 25% chance that an individual will have difficulty seeing or differentiating certain colors. This is more pertinent to the idea of country living versus city living as it is a generalized statement to say that with age, people move to the countryside. The effects of living in an environment with less color are unknown, but considering the relation to changes in color perception and age, it would be right of us to assume that at that point, a person may feel more comfortable in a less stimulating color environment. The mental trajectory for color plays a significant role in our overall well-being, and it has an undeniable effect on how we perceive the world around us. Color and light are both essential in maintaining the biological balance; color can be used to help sway psychological and physiological changes.

5. Conclusion

When comparing and contrasting the living styles of a country resident with a city resident, the impact of sound, smell, and color is a prominent factor. The three senses are far greater influenced when in a serene, peaceful country environment, as opposed to the busy, polluted, and hectic life of a city. Sound is such a structure for rural/urban differences as it is a concept that innovatively creates environmental atmospheres, reflects differences in infrastructure, culture, and community, and has direct and indirect, conscious and subconscious effects on people's emotions and behavior that create cognitive alterations. Rural sounds suggest peace and relaxation, a slower-paced and friendly environment by which most country towns are well renowned for. The lack of industrialized sounds creates a void of silence or peaceful sounds of nature that can greatly relax the mind, but for some individuals, this void can breed an uncomfortable sense of barrenness or boredom. This is contrary to people living in a city environment who are constantly bombarded with loud and often obnoxious sounds ranging from car horns and traffic jams to loudmouth neighbors. The direct impact creates frustration, anxiety, and acts of tuning out which can smother the usual desires to speak and be friendly, and thus this can breed automatic assumptions that people are unfriendly, and general differences in emotional states of mind.

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