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Soundscape Assessment

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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00596

Effects of music on crowd behaviours in urban open spaces

  • 1school of architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, China

Sound environment plays an important role in urban open spaces, yet studies on the effects of perception of the sound environment on crowd behaviours have been limited. The aim of this study, therefore, is to explore how music, which is considered an important soundscape element, affects crowd behaviours in urban open spaces. On-site observations were performed at a 100 m x 70 m urban leisure square in Harbin, China. Typical music was used to study the effects of perception of the sound environment on crowd behaviours; then, these behaviours were classified into movement (passing by and walking around) and non-movement behaviours (sitting). The results show that the path of passing by in an urban leisure square with music was more centralised than without music. Without music, 8.3% of people passing by walked near the edge of the square, whereas with music, this percentage was zero. In terms of the speed of passing by behaviour, no significant difference was observed with the presence or absence of background music. Regarding the effect of music on walking around behaviour in the square, the mean area and perimeter when background music was played were smaller than without background music. The mean speed of those exhibiting walking around behaviour with background music in the square was 0.296 m/s slower than when no background music was played. For those exhibiting sitting behaviour, when background music was not present crowd density showed no variation based on distance from sound source. When music was present, it was observed that as the distance from the sound source increased, crowd density of those sitting behaviour decreased accordingly.

Keywords: Music, crowd behaviour, Movement, soundscape, Urban open space

Received: 09 Nov 2017; Accepted: 09 Apr 2018.

Edited by:

Catherine Guastavino, McGill University, Canada

Reviewed by:

Simona Sacchi, Università degli studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy
William J. Davies, University of Salford, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Meng, Zhao and Kang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jian Kang, Harbin Institute of Technology, school of architecture, Harbin, 150001, Hei Long Jiang, China, j.kang@sheffield.ac.uk