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Speaker Abstracts

Valtteri Hongisto

Valtteri Hongisto

Professional title: Research group leader
Workplace: Turku University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland
Phone number: +358 40 5851 888
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Office noise increases stress hormone levels in blood plasma

Colleagues’ speech is a common source of disturbance in open-plan offices. Unnecessary speech is also known to deteriorate cognitive performance. However, very few studies have investigated the acute stress effects of unnecessary speech, since it requires the analysis of stress hormone concentrations from blood plasma.

The purpose was to determine the physiological stress responses of unnecessary speech during working.
A medical experiment was conducted in the psychophysics laboratory of Turku University of Applied Sciences. Between-groups design was applied where forty participants attended in an experiment lasting 4 hours. Twenty-one subjects were exposed to speech (65 dB LAeq) and nineteen subjects were exposed to silence (35 dB LAeq). Performance, psychological experience, and various physiological stress reactions (e.g., stress hormone levels, heart rate variability) were measured.

The speech group had lower performance and higher physiological stress level than the silence group. Speech was subjectively estimated more annoying and loading, but less tiring than silence.
This study shows that unnecessary speech during working influences experience, performance, and physiological stress level. Therefore, its influence should be minimized in offices, where work requiring concentration is needed.
Source: Radun, Maula, Rajala, Scheinin, & Hongisto, Indoor Air, 2021.