Effects of sound pressure levels and sensitivity to noise on mood and behavioral intent in a controlled fine dining restaurant environment

Christopher C. Novak, Joseph La Lopa, Robert E. Novak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study assesses the restaurant servicescape variable sound pressure level (volume) of the restaurant soundscape, comprised of four conditions-ambient noise, ambient noise plus soft classical, ambient noise plus comfortable classical, and ambient noise plus comfortable but slightly loud classical music-and subject sensitivity to noise and their influence on mood and approach or avoidance behavior in a fine dining, white-tablecloth university restaurant. The model in the study is derived from the environmental psychology model proposed by Mehrabian and Russel (M-R) (1974). The widely tested stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) model provides strong evidence that people respond to environments in the form of repeat patronage and satisfaction according to two primary emotion factors: pleasure and arousal. Participants' noise sensitivity was measured, using Weinstein's Noise Sensitivity Scale (WNS). Significant relationships were drawn between sound pressure levels, sensitivity to noise, mood (pleasure and arousal), gender, and behavioral intent relative to repeat patronage and ability to communicate in the various experimental conditions. Presence of appropriate music at "comfortable" volume levels (music plus ambient noise range of 62-67 dBA in restaurant with 35-50 patrons) increases dining pleasure of college-age clientele (19-27 years old), return behavior intentions, and overall consumer satisfaction. No music and music that is judged too loud result in similar perceptions of overall loudness and negative effects on measures of customer dining pleasure and repeat behavioral response. Females had greater sensitivity to sound levels, rating a given sound level as louder as and less pleasant than their male counterparts. Implications for restaurant managers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-218
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Culinary Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • Atmospherics
  • Music
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Servicescape
  • Sound pressure level
  • Soundscape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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