Urban emotion sensing beyond ‘affective capture’: Advancing critical interdisciplinary methods

Jessica Pykett*, Benjamin W. Chrisinger, Kalliopi Kyriakou, Tess Osborne, Bernd Resch, Afroditi Stathi, Anna C. Whittaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The use of mobile sensor methodologies in urban analytics to study ‘urban emotions’ is currently outpacing the science required to rigorously interpret the data generated. Interdisciplinary research on ‘urban stress’ could help inform urban wellbeing policies relating to healthier commuting and alleviation of work stress. The purpose of this paper is to address—through methodological experimentation—ethical, political and conceptual issues identified by critical social scientists with regards to emotion tracking, wearables and data analytics. We aim to encourage more dialogue between the critical approach and applied environmental health research. The definition of stress is not unambiguous or neutral and is mediated by the very technologies we use for research. We outline an integrative methodology in which we combine pilot field research using biosensing technologies, a novel method for identifying ‘moments of stress’ in a laboratory setting, psychometric surveys and narrative interviews on workplace and commuter stress in urban environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9003
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: J.P. received funding from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham. Bernd Resch received funding from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for the projects “Urban Emotions” (reference number I-3022) and “The Scales and Structures of Intra-Urban Spaces” (reference number P 29135-N29).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biosensing
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Mobile methods
  • Urban wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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