Pro-environmental behavior is imperative to sustain the environment in the future. To alleviate the effects humans have on the environment it is necessary that society adopts pro-environmental behaviors (Steg, 2013). A means of promoting behavioral change is through informational strategies that supply individuals with the knowledge, awareness, norms, and attitudes about an issue (Steg, 2013). Structural strategies incorporate a physical mean to modify behavior into a desired one (Steg, 2013). Implementing informational and structural strategies promotes the interventions necessary to support pro-environmental behavior (Steg, 2013). It is vital to have proper planning to ensure the effectiveness of the intervention (Steg, 2013). The behaviors seeking modification should have a larger environmental impact (Steg, 2013). Additionally, the intervention plan should be routed in theory that can be pre- and post-tested for effectiveness (Steg, 2013).
The most recent data obtained on noise pollution dates back to 1981, at which time a third of the American population suffered from noise-induced health effects (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). Essentially, education is the primary need of intervention for noise pollution. Research suggests many health issues are caused by excessive, habitual exposure to noise (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). As urbanization increases, noise is also expected to rise warranting the urgency of implementing laws and regulation for decreasing noise (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). Incorporating noise on the Federal Public Health Agenda promotes the Affordable Healthcare Act its (AHA) purpose to increase the number of Americans that are healthy at every stage of life (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has a focus on decreasing noise-induced hearing loss and increase cardiovascular health and reduce coronary disease (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). The federal objectives would benefit greatly by supplying communities with knowledge explaining what noise pollution is, its prevalence and the established health tolls it takes on individuals (Steg, 2013). Providing the public with knowledge increases awareness that could trigger a motivation to modify the behaviors that contribute to the noise pollution in the community (Steg, 2013).
Direct regulation of source control is another strategy to promote positive environmental change (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). In 1972, Congress passed the Noise Control Act (NCA) which allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate noise emitted from construction, transportation, and technological equipment (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). The NCA also allowed the EPA to regulate noise emission from compressors, trash compactors, trucks, and motorcycles, but failed at regulating lawnmowers causing a loss of funding (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). The previous noise reduction policies reduced noise exposure by 90% since 1981 alone in air travel (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). With all the new technological advances today, resuming the NCA, could further reduce noise emittance (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). Reducing noise emittance will improve the number of noise-related health problems in the United States (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014). However, due to the lack of financial support from Congress, regulation is capped leaving little room for improvement (Hammer, Swinburn, & Nietzel, 2014).
Implementing informational strategies holds the potential to develop motivation in the community to support the effort of the Noise Control Act (Steg, 2013). Resuming the Noise control Act promotes a strategic plan of reducing noise emittance that supports the federal desire of ensuring health and prevention of noise ailments throughout life (Steg, 2013). Implementing a plan of action to reduce noise emittance promotes a pro-environmental behavior change through community support and federal regulatory laws.
According to B. F. Skinner, a behavior is determined by positive or negative consequences (McLeod, 2015). Skinner theorized that the use of positive consequences reinforces behavior promoting its reoccurrence (McLeod, 2015). The use of negative reinforcement weakens the behavior promoting behavioral change (McLeod, 2015). Skinner also believed the use of punishment also weakens behavior and deters its reoccurrence (McLeod, 2015). When attempting to modify behavior, it is important that the environment contain prompts declaring the consequence of behavior (Steg, 2013). For instance, communities may post signs depicting times the noise is acceptable at higher levels and consequences if found in violation of the published ordinance. It is also important to convey the natural consequences of noise pollution (Steg, 2013). For instance, a warning that loud music over an extended period may cause hearing loss should prove beneficial in a night club setting. Behaviors that contain positive natural consequences may turn out to be more beneficial than those lacking because the internal reward of self-gratification is sometimes more fulfilling than an external consequence (Steg, 2013). In many instances, individuals are aware of the consequences of their negative behavior on the environment, but they lack the motivation to adopt pro-environmental behaviors (Steg, 2013). An individual may be aware that startling an individual from sleep not only interrupts sleep, but also increases blood pressure from shock, but they continue to set off fireworks in the middle of the night. Naturally occurring consequences, such as the personal enjoyment of seeing fireworks, are sometimes perceived as more beneficial than the result of avoiding the behavior (Steg, 2013). When this is the case, it is necessary to utilize intervention motivation techniques such as extra consequences that have more of an adverse effect than the naturally occurring consequences (Steg, 2013). When an individual sets off fireworks after established ordinance times, issuing a ticket that imposes a financial payment may deter the behavior. On the other hand, rewarding individuals with a free fireworks show a few times throughout the year may prevent them from purchasing and setting them off late at night. The reward would be a financial saving to the individual as they will not receive a ticket, and they can still view the fireworks.
Technology is perceived as a way to make life easier. However, there are negative side-effects to technological advances (Steg, 2013). Technological advancement has made it possible to carry noise in a pocket. Cellular phones have become smart because they can be programmed to play music available at the touch of a screen and allow a phone call anywhere at any time. Cell phones make unwanted noise a constant variable in the environment. Additionally, technology has led to the development and construction of vehicles, buildings, and televisions. Vehicle driving throughout the night interrupts sleep that hinders productivity. The construction utilizes loud machinery throughout the day and sometimes night that eliminates quiet time. Television has become “America’s favorite pastime” emanating an almost constant noise throughout living spaces and waiting rooms. Technology has increased noise amounts and levels with advancements. Although technological advances have had some negative impact on noise pollution in the environment, technology is vital to persuade individuals to adopt pro-environmental behaviors (Steg, 2013). Technology allows the utilization of ambient intelligence to prompt individuals to reduce noise (Steg, 2013). The use of interactive feedback on a group and individual level persuades individuals to adopt socially accepted behaviors (Steg, 2013). In a group setting, individuals can decide on an acceptable standard of music. When there are several people involved, individuals are more easily persuaded to conform to adequate volumes as they desire to fall within the social norm.
Environmental policies are rules of engagement when interacting with the environment (Steg, 2013). Developing environmental policies takes consideration of the acceptability of the policy, the attitude of society toward the policy as social support is necessary for the policy to be effective (Steg, 2013). Environmental policies are designed to promote behavior change through the outlined regulations in support of environmental sustainability (Steg, 2013). Attaining Environmental sustainability suggests behavior modification is necessary through the use of consequences (Steg, 2013). Policy measures may cause social dilemmas as the positive consequences affect society as whole, but the negative consequences affect the individual (Steg, 2013). Individuals are more supportive of a policy that will eliminate a reduction in a collection of problems (Steg, 20113). For instance, implementing a policy of noise ordinance in a community has a collective response. Implementing a noise ordinance decreases sleep interruptions that will increase alertness and decrease blood pressure (Goines & Hagler, 2007). Health improves as a whole. The community as a whole receives the benefit as well as the individual who leads the community to accept the policy and implement the necessary behavior changes.
Although there is little data collected on noise pollution, it is an environmental problem that needs immediate intervention. The health effects of noise pollution include sleep deprivation that affects the quality of life, coronary health issues, as well as cardiovascular problems (Goines & Hagler, 2007). As population and urbanization increase, noise pollution and health problems inflate. Incorporating knowledge and awareness of the effect of noise on society and health may trigger the motivation necessary to change behavior having an adverse impact on the environment. Implementing regulatory policies that are widely accepted and supported by the community will promote positive behavior change in support of sustainability.
Goines, L., & Hagler, MD, L. (2007, March). Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague. Southern Medical Journal, 100, 287-294. Retrieved from http://www.nonoise.org/library/smj/smj.htm
Hammer, M. S., Swinburn, T. K., & Nietzel, R. L. (2014, February). Environmental Noise Pollution in the United States: Developing an Effective Public Health Response. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2(122), 115-119. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.130727
McLeod, S. A. (2015). Skinner – Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
Mead, M. N. (2007, November). Noise Pollution: The Sound Behind Heart Effects. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(11), A536-A537. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072857/
Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.