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Effects of background noise and extraversion on reading comprehension performance

Gheewalla, F; McClelland, A; Furnham, A; (2021) Effects of background noise and extraversion on reading comprehension performance. Ergonomics , 64 (5) pp. 593-599. 10.1080/00140139.2020.1854352. Green open access

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Abstract

This study was concerned with the effects of acoustic distraction at work. Using a within-subject study we aimed to investigate the effect of background distraction on cognitive performance. In the presence of silence, white noise, and sirens, fifty-five fluent English speakers completed three equivalent variations of a reading comprehension task. As predicted, there was a significant main effect of background sound, with poorer performance in the presence of distraction (particularly sirens), but no interaction was found between distraction and extraversion. Thus, the findings partially replicated previous research in terms of distraction but were inconsistent with regard to the Eysenckian theory of arousal differences between introverts and extraverts. Implications of the effect of sirens on those they are not designed to alert are considered. Limitations of this study are also considered. Practitioners Summary: This study was concerned with whether white noise and the sound of sirens effects reading comprehension. We found that compared to doing a highly involving and demanding cognitive task in silence, siren noise has a most significant negative effect on performance. Compared to working silence, white noise also reduced the efficiency on text comprehension. There were no introvert-extravert effects.

Type: Article
Title: Effects of background noise and extraversion on reading comprehension performance
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2020.1854352
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2020.1854352
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Extraversion, personality, distraction, cognitive performance, background noise
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116363
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