Ambient noise refers to all noise present in a given environment. Like, if you’re in a coffee shop, you’d hear the people chatting and the sound of the coffee machines. In recent years, researchers have investigated the effect of ambient noise on studying.
A study led by Onno van der Groen found that a certain level of noise stimulation improved perception and decision-making in participants. Because the human ear is naturally tuned to pick up on speech intonations, distinct conversations pull your attention away from your task. On the other hand, it can be helpful when voices blend and fade into the background.
Personality is another variable. According to Adrian Furnham and Lisa Strbac of University College, ambient noise impairs performance of introverts in tasks involving reading comprehension, mental arithmetic, and prose recall, while performance in silence was the same for both personality types.
Finally, the effect of ambient noise depends on the type of studying. Researchers found that when doing difficult tasks, participants performed significantly better without ambient noise. In fact, if the ambient noise is particularly loud, it can even raise your blood pressure and stress levels. However, a different study found that ambient noise is beneficial when it comes to tasks involving creativity.
In conclusion, the effect of ambient noise on studying depends on factors such as the level of ambient noise, your personality, and the type of studying. So perhaps, the best way to know is to try it out.
Here are a few free websites that provide ambient noise for studying: