What in the world do we hear?  An ecological approach to auditory source perception.

Gaver, William. 1993. What in the world do we hear?  An ecological approach to auditory source perception. ECOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY, 5(1), pp. 1-29. ISSN 1040-7413 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Everyday listening is the experience of hearing events in the world rather than sounds per se. In this article, I take an ecological approach to everyday listening to overcome constraints on its study implied by more traditional approaches. In particular, I am concerned with developing a new framework for describing sound in terms of audible source attributes. An examination of the continuum of structured energy from event to audition suggests that sound conveys information about events at locations in an environment. Qualitative descriptions of the physics of sound-producing events, complemented by protocol studies, suggest a tripartite division of sound-producing events into those involving vibrating solids, gasses, or liquids. Within each of these categories, basic-level events are defined by the simple interactions that can cause these materials to sound, whereas more complex events can be described in terms of temporal patterning, compound, or hybrid sources. The results of these investigations are used to create a map of sound-producing events and their attributes useful in guiding further exploration.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Design > Interaction Research Studio



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Date Deposited:

29 Nov 2015 21:48

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2017 13:58

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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