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Humanities & Social Sciences

Auditory and Visual Interaction in the Aesthetic Evalution of Environment




In the study of environmental psychology, ecological validity is important, and to achieve this, wide viewpoint is needed taking various factors into account. Though the wide viewpoint is accepted as natural, it causes much difficulty in finding a law. Many factors may be involved and it is not easy to find the clear relation between stimulus conditions and human responses to them.

The research group of Environmental Psychology in Osaka University, with the leadership of Professor Sonoko Kuwano and Professor Emeritus Seiichiro Namba (at present Professor of Takarazuka University of Art and Design), has long been investigating human behavior in complicated situations, especially in the field of hearing, by developing new methods and new equipment in order to measure temporally varying complex phenomena, and found rules and/or models which determine the behavior. One example is the proposal of an equal energy model for measuring the loudness of temporally varying sounds, which holds good for each of various sound sources [1]. Another is the effect of cultural or social background on the evaluation of sound environment [2]. The Paper Awards, Sato Prize, of the Acoustical Society of Japan were conferred on these two studies. The idea of equal energy model can be applied to the evaluation of environmental noise and has been adopted to the Environmental Quality Standard of Noise in Japan.

Concerning social effect the research group has been doing cross-cultural study in cooperation with foreign researchers. A scene of a cross-cultural study conducted in the sound proof room in our laboratory is shown in Fig.1. It was found that some sounds are accepted in the same way in all the countries investigated, while others are not. One of the examples is the case of danger signals, e.g. alarm for fire. It is important to find the appropriate properties of danger signals so that there is no cultural difference in their recognition. A part of the analysis of a signal perceived as being dangerous in Japan, Germany and the U.S. is shown in Fig.2. Both Prof. Namba and Prof. Kuwano are working for the international standardization of danger signals as members of working group of ISO.

Social or environmental factors have cognitive and emotional aspects and these information is mainly transmitted by vision and hearing. The aim of the present paper is to make clear the effect of visual background on the cognition and emotional impression of sound environment and the role of green plants in the environmental design. A technique of computer graphics contributed to this study in editing the motion pictures. The improvement of multimedia capability and easy manipulation of computers is becoming an important tool for the study of interaction of auditory and visual perception.


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