The influence of urban environments on our subjective momentary experiences

Amit Birenboim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In today's developed world, the ability of a city to generate good experiences for its residents and visitors is a main aspect of its attractiveness. A good city is considered to be one in which people feel secure, relaxed, and happy. This article explores the factors that influence the subjective momentary experiences of individuals in the city, while focusing on the impact of spatial variables on these experiences; 91 students living in Jerusalem, Israel, were asked to repeatedly self-report four dimensions of episodic experience, namely, sense of security, happiness, annoyance, and sense of comfort. Reports were sent in real time using a smartphone application during an eight-month period. The results, based on over 5000 experience samples, indicate that subjective momentary experiences, particularly sense of comfort and sense of security, are highly influenced by situational variables and environmental characteristics including type of activity and environment, place characteristics, and company. Surprisingly, personality variables which are considered to be a main determinant of wellbeing and general life satisfaction were found to be non-significant in the multilevel models that were implemented. This finding further supports the notion that momentary experiences greatly differ from general evaluations of subjective wellbeing.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)915-932
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • Geographical information systems
  • experience sampling method
  • smartphone
  • subjective momentary experience
  • wellbeing


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