Stress and open-office noise

J Appl Psychol. 2000 Oct;85(5):779-83. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.85.5.779.


Forty female clerical workers were randomly assigned to a control condition or to 3-hr exposure to low-intensity noise designed to simulate typical open-office noise levels. The simulated open-office noise elevated workers' urinary epinephrine levels, but not their norepinephrine or cortisol levels, and it produced behavioral aftereffects (fewer attempts at unsolvable puzzles) indicative of motivational deficits. Participants were also less likely to make ergonomic, postural adjustments in their computer work station while working under noisy, relative to quiet, conditions. Postural invariance is a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorder. Although participants in the noise condition perceived their work setting as significantly noisier than those working under quiet conditions did, the groups did not differ in perceived stress. Potential health consequences of long-term exposure to low-intensity office noise are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology
  • Stress, Physiological / urine
  • Task Performance and Analysis


  • Biomarkers