Images of Urban Happiness

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  • Title: Images of Urban Happiness: A Pilot Study in the Self-representation of Happiness in Urban Spaces
  • Author(s): Sofie Pringle, Mirko Guaralda
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Image
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Image
  • Keywords: Architecture, Urban Happiness, Interpretation, Amateur Imaging
  • Volume: 8
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2154-8560 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8579 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Pringle, Sofie , and Mirko Guaralda. 2018. "Images of Urban Happiness: A Pilot Study in the Self-representation of Happiness in Urban Spaces." The International Journal of the Image 8 (4): 97-122. doi:10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v08i04/97-122.
  • Extent: 26 pages


In a world with an increasing urban population, understanding how built environments can facilitate psychological as well as physical well-being is an argument broadly discussed in current literature. “Urban happiness” is a field of research dealing with urban landscapes that foster positive emotions in users and visitors. Understanding the parameters of urban happiness is a complex issue due to different meanings associated with this concept from different social groups. Digital media allows us to gather an understanding of what elements the broader population might associate with happiness in the urban environment through the use of image-sharing platforms such as Instagram. This pilot study was undertaken to identify both built and natural forms that users of a city environment associated with happiness. The thematic analysis of images, which were sourced through Instagram, has allowed identified or emerging themes and features. These have been tested with residents of Brisbane, Australia, through an online questionnaire. The pilot study offers a foundation for further research aiming to understand how people’s self-representation of happiness can be translated in design principles for planners, urban designers, architects, and landscape architects.