Understanding park visitors’ soundscape perception using subjective and objective measurement

Lauren A. Ferguson, B. Derrick Taff, Justine I. Blanford, Daniel J. Mennitt, Andrew J. Mowen, Mitchell Levenhagen, Crow White, Christopher A. Monz, Clinton D. Francis, Jesse R. Barber, Peter Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environmental noise knows no boundaries, affecting even protected areas. Noise pollution, originating from both external and internal sources, imposes costs on these areas. It is associated with adverse health effects, while natural sounds contribute to cognitive and emotional improvements as ecosystem services. When it comes to parks, individual visitors hold unique perceptions of soundscapes, which can be shaped by various factors such as their motivations for visiting, personal norms, attitudes towards specific sounds, and expectations. In this study, we utilized linear models and geospatial data to evaluate how visitors’ personal norms and attitudes, the park’s acoustic environment, visitor counts, and the acoustic environment of visitors’ neighborhoods influenced their perception of soundscapes at Muir Woods National Monument. Our findings indicate that visitors’ subjective experiences had a greater impact on their perception of the park’s soundscape compared to purely acoustic factors like sound level of the park itself. Specifically, we found that motivations to hear natural sounds, interference caused by noise, sensitivity to noise, and the sound levels of visitors’ home neighborhoods influenced visitors’ perception of the park’s soundscape. Understanding how personal factors shape visitors’ soundscape perception can assist urban and non-urban park planners in effectively managing visitor experiences and expectations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16592
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

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