The global population is projected to reach 10 billion by the year 2100 or earlier (Andreev, Kantorová & Bongaarts, 2013). Having increased from six billion to seven billion between the years 1999 and 2013, it is apparent that the global population is growing significantly (Andreev, Kantorová & Bongaarts, 2013). As this growth progresses, notable changes are also ongoing in the world’s demographics.
For example, the population density is rising. Consequently, personal space, privacy, and individual territories are becoming constricted. Additionally, residential places are becoming noisier as the number of inhabitants increases. Against this backdrop, this essay analyzes the effects of population density and noise on individuals. It is anticipated that through this analysis, a deeper understanding of the implications of the ongoing demographic changes shall be gained.
Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space
Human beings are naturally social. However, it is important to note that there are times when individuals need some personal time. This need makes territoriality, privacy, and personal space important elements of human interaction.
According to Nagar (2006), territory refers to an area that belongs somewhat exclusively to an individual or a group of people. In simple terms, it is a defended space. Therefore, territoriality denotes the tendency of individuals or groups to lay ownership claims on a particular area and act in defense of that area. Nagar (2006) notes that territoriality is a fundamental human behavior. She adds that with respect to human beings, a territory can be tribal, familial, or personal (Nagar, 2006).
Human relationships vary in nature and so is the physical distance associated with these relationships. Individuals often allow family members and close friends to get closer to them than strangers, but in both cases, there has to be some space in between. This space can be likened to a personal bubble that an individual cannot allow anyone into (Nagar, 2006).
The term privacy refers to the restriction of access to one’s personal space and personal information (Nagar, 2006). Typically, individuals do not take it kindly when others invade their privacy. Therefore, the territorial behavior exhibited by individuals serves the purpose of protecting their privacy.
The Relationship between Population Density, Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space
The rise in the global population translates to higher population densities in residential areas. Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the consequences of this change. Steg, Berg, and de Groot (2013) found that high population densities cause negative social attitudes and undesirable behavior. They add that these negative behavioral and attitudinal patterns stem from the emotional stress, which results from constant exposure to other people (Steg, Berg & de Groot, 2013).
As pointed out in the previous section, human beings exhibit territorial tendencies that clearly indicate that they need personal space and privacy. They react with anger or outrage when this privacy is invaded. Incidentally, the rise in population densities across the world has limited people’s ability to maintain their privacy and personal space. Unfortunately, Steg, Berg and de Groot (2013) argue that prolonged exposure to other people causes stress. Additionally, densely populated areas are associated with crowding, which has well known negative psychological effects (Steg, Berg & de Groot, 2013). Crowding fosters erratic interaction patterns, aggression, and social withdrawal (Steg, Berg & de Groot, 2013). Further, crowded areas serve as havens for criminals.
Therefore, territoriality, privacy, and personal space have become important in the face of rising population densities because of the need to curb the negative effects of this change. As it is, the world is already full of problems that are instigated by civil wars, natural disasters, and epidemics. As such, the fact that some additional problems that can be controlled or partially reduced by fostering territoriality, personal space, and privacy are emerging, gives these three concepts increased importance.
The Effect of Nature on Urban Dwellers
The most adversely affected group of people insofar as the delimitation of territoriality, personal space, and privacy are concerned, consists of inhabitants of urban environments (Maller et al., 2006). Due to the large numbers of people who live in urban environments, privacy and personal space are almost non-existent. Therefore, the effects of crowding as delineated earlier are more prominent in urban settings (Maller et al., 2006).
However, the establishment of zoos, parks, and nature gardens within urban settings serves to lower these effects. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare outlines seven realms of holistic health and well-being. They include mental, social, economic, spiritual, and environmental well-being coupled with life satisfaction and other matters of importance to human beings (Maller et al., 2006). In case any of these realms are affected, the well-being of an individual is jeopardized. Incidentally, the adverse effects of overpopulation are of social and mental nature. Therefore, since Maller et al. (2006) note that parks and gardens in urban settings have the potential to lower mental ill health, they are of great importance to urban dwellers.
Apparently, the effects of natural settings such as zoos, gardens, and parks in urban settings are health-related. Maller et al. (2006) note that urban dwellers with access to natural settings exhibit better health conditions than those who do not. By viewing or just being in these natural settings, the mental stress associated with the hustle and bustle of urban life reduces (Maller et al., 2006).
Noise and its Effects on Individuals
Debates are ongoing about noise and its possible effects on the health of human beings. To gain a clear concept of the matters that fuel these debates, it is important to decipher the concept of noise first. Through the sense of hearing, human beings are able to detect the vibrations that form a sound. A plethora of sounds exist within the environment. Examples include vibrations from musical instruments, speech from individuals, the clanging of metal objects, and car horns among many others. Sound facilitates important functions such as audio communication and entertainment.
It also helps to issue warnings in emergency cases. Nonetheless, excessive, unwanted, or loud sounds constitute noise. Therefore, in the simplest terms, noise can be described as an unwanted sound. It is prevalent in the contemporary human environment due to heightened activity.
A growing body of literature indicates that noise is more dangerous than initially thought. For example, contrary to the notion that it only affects people’s auditory abilities, it is reportedly linked to a range of illnesses such as sleep disorders, learning difficulties, cardiovascular complications, and depression (“Noise makes us sick”, 2007). In fact, the detrimental nature of its health effects makes noise comparable to the effects of air and water pollution (“Noise makes us sick”, 2007). A point worth noting is that the higher population densities that characterize the contemporary world exacerbate the magnitude of noise in the environment.
Possible Noise Reduction Strategies
Due to the dangerous nature of noise, it is imperative that national and state governments as well as city authorities and individuals devise mechanisms of reducing noise in the environment. The home, the workplace, the school, and the outdoor environment all need to be pacified from noise. Various strategies can be employed to achieve this feat.
One of the practical methods that can be used to reduce noise in the workplace is the reduction of noise at the source (Connor & Ortiz, 2009). Workplaces vary in nature and some are noisier, but this strategy is applicable to all workplaces. In workplaces that are characterized by machines, replacing noisy or outdated machinery can go a long way in reducing noise. Additionally, lubrication, quieter materials, and rubber bumpers can help reduce the noise that results from the contact of metal parts. In environments that are characterized by people, a noise policy is a good starting point followed by gadgets such as noise meters to constantly remind people that the area should be noise-free.
At home, noise can be reduced by insulating the house. This approach works best if implemented from the planning level. Technological advancement has availed innovative products such as noise absorbent paint to help reduce noise in houses. Additionally, the interior of a house can be fitted with noise proof or noise absorbent materials to reduce noise.
This essay sought to analyze the effects of high population densities and noise on individuals. The analysis brought a number of intriguing issues to the fore. To begin with, humans are territorial beings and require personal space and privacy to thrive. A delimitation of these requirements such as in densely populated environments leads to adverse psychological effects. However, urban residents can avoid these effects by visiting zoos, parks, and nature gardens since nature has its way of healing them. Noise, which has also been established to have adverse health effects, can be lowered by reducing it at the source or insulating homes against it. This way, the negative effects of high population density can be effectively combated.
Andreev, K., Kantorová, V., & Bongaarts, J. (2013). Demographic components of future population growth (Technical Report No. 2013/3). New York, NY: United Nations.
Connor, A., & Ortiz, E. (2009). Staff solutions for noise reduction in the workplace. The Permanente Journal, 13(4), 23-27.
Maller, C., Townsend, M., Pryor, A., Brown, P., & St Leger, L. (2006). Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International, 21(1), 45-54.
Nagar, D. (2006). Environmental Psychology. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Co. Ltd.
Noise makes us sick. (2007). Noise & Vibration Worldwide, 38(10), 31.
Steg, L., Berg, A., & de Groot, J. (2013). Environmental psychology (1st ed.). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.