Investigating the emotional responses of individuals to urban green space using twitter data: A critical comparison of three different methods of sentiment analysis

Abstract

In urban research, Twitter data have the potential to provide additional information about urban citizens, their activities, mobility patterns and emotion. Extracting the sentiment present in tweets is increasingly recognised as a valuable approach to gathering information on the mood, opinion and emotional responses of individuals in a variety of contexts. This article evaluates the potential of deriving emotional responses of individuals while they experience and interact with urban green space. A corpus of over 10,000 tweets relating to 60 urban green spaces in Birmingham, United Kingdom was analysed for positivity, negativity and specific emotions, using manual, semi-automated and automated methods of sentiment analysis and the outputs of each method compared. Similar numbers of tweets were annotated as positive/neutral/negative by all three methods; however, inter-method consistency in tweet assignment between the methods was low. A comparison of all three methods on the same corpus of tweets, using character emojis as an additional quality control, identifies a number of limitations associated with each approach. The results presented have implications for urban planners in terms of the choices available to identify and analyse the sentiment present in tweets, and the importance of choosing the most appropriate method. Future attempts to develop more reliable and accurate algorithms of sentiment analysis are needed and should focus on semi-automated methods.

Publication
Urban Planning
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