Assessment of Soundscapes Using Self-Report and Physiological Measures

Simon Durbridge*, Damian Thomas Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soundscape studies evaluate the subjective and objective qualities of an environment and attempt to develop a holistic view of the interplay between the acoustic scene and the listener’s experience. Descriptors are used to express the perception of the acoustic environment, while further subjective and quantitative measures are used as indicators that represent features of the acoustic environment. The relationships between descriptors and indicators for a particular soundscape study are often identified by developing linear statistical models. This work describes an experiment to assess heart rate measures, including ultra short term heart rate variability, within the context of the predictor descriptor framework of a soundscape study. The aim of this work is to provide evidence in support of the psychophysiological basis of measures of affect in soundscape evaluation. In this study 15 participants evaluated a randomly ordered set of 8 soundscape recordings in a repeated measures directed listening experiment. Subjective evaluation of the soundscapes was performed using the self-assessment manikin and a sound classification survey. Participants’ heart rate was measured throughout the experiment with a Polar H10 ECG heart rate monitor. Statistically significant relationships were identified between indicators and descriptors that reflect results present in the literature. However, there were no significant interactions between heart rate measures and self-reported affect or classification scores. Future studies should focus on improving the selection of stimuli and the experiment methodology to boost the sensitivity of the experiment in light of small effect sizes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalActa Acustica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s), 2023


  • acoustics
  • soundscape
  • physiology

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