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Psychology/why is one acceptale but no the other?


QUESTION: I had trouble determining if this was sociology or psychology or a bit of both, but here's my question:

Recently we had roofers come over and they started blasting music.  I asked some friends if it's faux pas to ask hired help to please turn it down a bit and one of the responses I got was one I've heard said before: "why not let them enjoy their day?"  This stuck me -I got thinking about it and realized it's totally acceptable for people to blast music and have it drown out someone's silence, and the response if often "why not them them enjoy themselves"....but on the flip side if someone prefers a state of quiet to "enjoy themselves" they're considered jerks if their "silence" intrudes on other people's music.  
Why is it that in our society typically it's considered acceptable to play loud music and have it audible to other people but those who prefer silence are considered jerks if our silence intrudes on their noise?

To me they're the same scenario, both are just about a state of noise (or lack thereof) and each are needed equally by the people who like them. Yet nobody ever says to the person who blasts music "hey, why not just let the silence lovers enjoy their day" yet people think nothing of telling people who like a lack of music that the music lover's preference is somehow more important. What's the difference?  Sure silence can't be "turned up" the way music can be and to impose silence on someone you have to actually ask them to help oblige you, but asking them is in a sense the equivalent of someone else just turning up the music. We're trying to turn up our quiet. But what gets me more is that the music people will always win anyways because they CAN have their music blasting in their house as long as windows and doors are closed and my silence can NEVER drown that out (because as long as it's not audible outside nobody would ask them to turn it down). But their music can certainly drown out my silence in my home. That would make me think that the music people logically should be the ones considered as jerks over the silent people...yet it's the silent people who get all the flak.  Why do people assume that music trumps non-music? In essence why should
I let them "enjoy their day" because they apparently need music to do that, but that I shouldn't use silence to enjoy mine. Why do their needs trump mine?


Thank you for submitting your query to me here at AllExperts. I would say that both your need for quiet and their need for music are equally valid. It is a choice that individuals make in order to live in society to give up or set aside their needs/wants for the benefit of others. You could have demanded to have your need for silence respected, but for some reason, you did not feel that your need was as great as theirs.

Best wishes,

Dr. Luna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I agree that both are equally valid - you seemed to have misunderstood my question. (In fact I did tell them to turn their music down).

My question was essentially this:
why does society itself as a whole often view the people who ask for music blasters to turn their music down as jerks?  My friend thought I was a jerk for wanting them to turn their music down. Why?  Why not that they're jerks for interrupting my silence?  

I know you could say I should ask my friend that but it's not just her -society at large views people like me as worse than the people playing the music, when really there is no ACTUAL difference. yet there is a very real perceived difference. What is the psychology behind this perceived difference?


Thanks for restating your question! The perceived difference is that in the USA, there is a strong emphasis on the needs of the individual (self vs. other) rather than on the needs of the community (myself as a part of the larger whole). In a more community based society, the question of the roofers might be "I would like to listen to music, but I do not want to upset those around me. I should either listen to it privately or I should invite others to join me in listening to this music." In our society, each individual often asks "I want (silence/music/conversation, etc...)." There is not often a concern on the impact on those around them.

Hope this helps clarify for you.

Best Wishes

Dr. Luna


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Kristina Luna


I specialize in clinical psychology with particular experience in clinical hypnosis, borderline personality disorder, LGBTQ, and aging. I have not worked with children for several years and would not feel comfortable answering child and adolescent based questions. My interests in adult psychology are fairly diverse, so please, sent me a question and lets see if I can help.


I have been working in the field of psychology, to some degree, since 1998. Initially, my work was more behaviorally based, but through my educational and training experiences, I have expanded to a more eclectic viewpoint. I have taught introductory psychology and have worked in college counseling. I have also studied hypnosis for several years, completing my dissertation on basic research in hypnosis. Finally, I completed my internship and residency in a transitional treatment program for young adults (18 - 16) with difficulty transitioning from home.

Doctor of Psychology 2009 Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana, Pennsylvania Master of Arts in Psychology 2002 MCP Hahnemann/Drexel University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Bachelor of Arts in Psychology 1997 Keuka College Keuka Park, New York

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