New Paper Alert: Measuring Online Wellbeing: A Scoping Review of Subjective Wellbeing Measures

We have a new paper out in Frontiers in Psychology, reporting a scoping literature review of subjective wellbeing measures, with a view to examining how to measure wellbeing online. The paper was developed from a student project by Zhen Ong, a medical student at the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with myself, Elvira Perez Vallejos, Mat Rawsthorne, and Yunfei Long. Subjective wellbeing is the type of wellbeing related to positive and negative experiences and overall life satisfaction. Given that being online takes up a large amount of quite a lot of poeple’s times, it is clear that day to day wellbeing is affected by what takes place online. Measuring wellbeing is a highly contextual (and contested) endeavour, and the lack of scales or frameworks for measuring wellbeing in the online world is something my colleagues and I have been thinking about for the last couple of years. We are working on developing meaasures that are relevant to this context and will be publishing on these soon (see here for a preliminary paper from last year). Despite what the comic at the top of this post might suggest, I actually think the internet can be a massive force for good and have great benefits to wellbeing. Clearly there are serious and importance negatives but I don’t think that needs to be all we focus on. Positive psychology for the win! Anyway, here’s the abstract.

ABSTRACT: With the increasing importance of the internet to our everyday lives, questions are rightly being asked about how its’ use affects our wellbeing. It is important to be able to effectively measure the effects of the online context, as it allows us to assess the impact of specific online contexts on wellbeing that may not apply to offline wellbeing. This paper describes a scoping review of English language, peer-reviewed articles published in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsychInfo between 1st January 2015 and 31st December 2019 to identify what measures are used to assess subjective wellbeing and in particular to identify any measures used in the online context. Two hundred forty studies were identified; 160 studies were removed by abstract screening, and 17 studies were removed by full-text screening, leaving 63 included studies. Fifty-six subjective wellbeing scales were identified with 18 excluded and 38 included for further analysis. Only one study was identified researching online wellbeing, and no specific online wellbeing scale was found. Therefore, common features of the existing scales, such as the number and type of questions, are compared to offer recommendations for building an online wellbeing scale. Such a scale is recommended to be between 3 and 20 questions, using mainly 5-point Likert or Likert-like scales to measure at least positive and negative affect, and ideally life satisfaction, and to use mainly subjective evaluation. Further research is needed to establish how these findings for the offline world effectively translate into an online measure of wellbeing.

[CfP] Questionnaire about NHS Covid-19 App

As part of the Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Hub, we are running a brief questionnaire aiming to explore the public perception of the NHS Covid-19 App for test and trace, particularly issues around trust.

The study will help us to understand user perceptions of the NHS Covid-19 app, particularly around the use of technology and how this relates to trust.

The questionnaire should take you around 10 minutes and can be found here (or copy and paste

We will not ask you questions about your medical history, or your current health. The questions will be about your understanding and your perception of the NHS Covid-19 app more generally and the role of automation (e.g., computers making decisions). You will not be able to be identified from your responses and we will not ask for any personal information outside of some brief demographic questions. 

Thank you!

New Paper(s) Alert: Wellbeing, Trust, and personal data

I’ve fallen a bit behind on announcing when papers are published this year so thought I’d do a quick summary of things that have appeared over the summer. A lot of the things I have been doing recently look at how our use of the internet affects our wellbeing, whether and how people have trust in the internet, and how people experience being online in different contexts. As a lot of us are online all the time these are important questions for us to understand.

From a Wondermark comic by the excellent David Malki!

Measuring online trust and wellbeing

At the start of the Summer I presented at the (online) Ethicomp conference. Our extended abstract called “Developing a measure of online wellbeing and user trust” described how we designed a survey in order to investigate both online wellbeing and trust in the online world, and how well it worked on first deployment during workshops with young people and older adults. You can see the talk I did here. This was extended to a full paper for the Ethicomp book series with more details about the prototype scales. Since then we have done an online questionnaire study with 300 participants with an improved version of the scales, currently being written up.

“This paper describes the first stage of the ongoing development of two scales to measure online wellbeing and trust, based on the results of a series of workshops with younger and older adults. The first, the Online Wellbeing Scale includes subscales covering both psychological, or eudaimonic, wellbeing and subjective, or hedonic, wellbeing, as well as digital literacy and online activity; the overall aim is to understand how a user’s online experiences affect their wellbeing. The second scale, the Trust Index includes three subscales covering the importance of trust to the user, trusting beliefs, and contextual factors; the aim for this scale is to examine trust in online algorithm-driven systems. The scales will be used together to aid researchers in understanding how trust (or lack of trust) relates to overall wellbeing online. They will also contribute to the development of a suite of tools for empowering users to negotiate issues of trust online, as well as in designing guidelines for the inclusion of trust considerations in the development of online algorithm-driven systems. The next step is to release the prototype scales developed as a result of this pilot in a large online study in to validate the measures.”

Illustration by the ever wonderful John Allison

Young peoples’ views of personal data use

Also in the Summer, in fact around the same time, I also presented at the (again online) ACM conference on Interaction Design and Children. The paper, “It’s Your Private Information. It’s Your Life.” Young people’s views of personal data use by online technologies focused on the co-creation and use of an activity used with 13-17 year olds to investigate their experiences and opinions surrounding the use of their personal data when they are online. It discussed the role of (formal and informal) education about the issues combined with improved privacy- and transparency-by-design, to create a digital world that people feel safe and confident in.

“Children and young people make extensive and varied use of digital and online technologies, yet issues about how their personal data may be collected and used by online platforms are rarely discussed. Additionally, despite calls to increase awareness, schools often do not cover these topics, instead focusing on online safety issues, such as being approached by strangers, cyberbullying or access to inappropriate content. This paper presents the results of one of the activities run as part of eleven workshops with 13-18 year olds, using co-designed activities to encourage critical thinking. Sets of ‘data cards’ were used to stimulate discussion about sharing and selling of personal data by online technology companies. Results highlight the desire and need for increased awareness about the potential uses of personal data amongst this age group, and the paper makes recommendations for embedding this into school curriculums as well as incorporating it into interaction design, to allow young people to make informed decisions about their online lives.”

Image from the marvellous David Willis

The impact of online algorithms on young peoples’ wellbeing

Finally, we have just released the paper The impact of algorithmic decision-making processes on young people’s well-being in the Health Informatics Journal. The paper looks at how young peoples’ experiences of the online world, particularly when using websites and platforms that are governed by decision-making algorithms (recommenders, search engines, social media, shopping, and so on) might affect their overall wellbeing.

“BACKGROUND Algorithms rule the online environments and are essential for performing data processing, filtering, personalisation and other tasks. Research has shown that children and young people make up a significant proportion of Internet users, however little attention has been given to their experiences of algorithmically-mediated online platforms, or the impact of them on their mental health and well-being. The algorithms that govern online platforms are often obfuscated by a lack of transparency in their online Terms and Conditions and user agreements. This lack of transparency speaks to the need for protecting the most vulnerable users from potential online harms.

OBJECTIVE To capture young people’s experiences when being online and perceived impact on their well-being.

METHODS In this paper, we draw on qualitative and quantitative data from a total of 260 children and young people who took part in a ‘Youth Jury’ to bring their opinions to the forefront, elicit discussion of their experiences of using online platforms, and perceived psychosocial impact on users.

RESULTS The results of the study revealed the young people’s positive as well as negative experiences of using online platforms. Benefits such as being convenient and providing entertainment and personalised search results were identified. However, the data also reveals participants’ concerns for their privacy, safety and trust when online, which can have a significant impact on their well-being.

CONCLUSIONS We conclude by making recommendations that online platforms acknowledge and enact on their responsibility to protect the privacy of their young users, recognising the significant developmental milestones that this group experience during these early years, and the impact that technology may have on them. We argue that governments need to incorporate policies that require technologists and others to embed the safeguarding of users’ well-being within the core of the design of Internet products and services to improve the user experiences and psychological well-being of all, but especially those of children and young people.”

[CfP] Can I interview you about NHS Test and Trace?

As part of my new role in the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Hub I am looking to interview a wide range of people about their perceptions of NHS Test and Trace. The only requirements are you must be over 18 and a current UK resident.

The study aims to understand your opinion, and any concerns or suggestions you may have, particularly in the area of trust. The intention is for the findings of this interview to be used to create a larger scale questionnaire to survey this public perception more widely.

The interview which should take around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how much you have to say! The interview will be audio-recorded for analysis and it will take place online.

You will receive a £15 Amazon voucher for contributing to this study.

I hope to conduct the majority of these interviews in the week of the 10th August 2020 but I am flexible around your availability.

If you are interested, please email me ( or get in touch another way (my smoke signalling equipment is on the blink I’m afraid). I will send you more information about the study, and we will work out a time that suits you for the interview.

****I will not ask you questions about your medical history, or whether you think you had COVID-19. The questions will be about your understanding and your perception of the NHS Test and Trace system more generally and the role of automation (e.g., computers making decisions).****

[CfP] Online Job Searching study

Have you ever wondered what is behind online recruitment?

One of the projects I work on, ReEnTrust, is trying to understand how online systems that use algorithms can be designed to help people to feel more confident about using them. This is a collaborative project between the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Edinburgh.

We are running a study about online job searching (erecruitment) which should take around 60 minutes to complete. You should be aged 16 years old or over to take part and no skill in computer science is required.

The study is all online and designed as a three part experiment: first a questionnaire, then an exploration of a job searching website from which participants are asked to complete a series of short tasks, and finally some post-take questions and feedback about the platform.

If you want to take part, send us an email to:

We will confirm your participation by responding with the link to the study and an access code.

By participating, you will give us a better understanding of how explanation and transparency  of online job searching would impact your trust. The results of the experiment will be used in the design of methods dedicated to assessing online trust.

For giving us some of your time, you will also be rewarded with a £10 Amazon voucher.

No personal information will be required. You will be given the entire privacy policy statement before starting the experiment.

Thank you for your time.

The ReEnTrust Team

[CfP] Image sharing on Social Media

Help Ioanna enjoy the Summer!

One of my very talented PhD students, Ioanna Ntinou, is running a study that focuses on the sharing of information through photographs on social media platforms.

If you have experience of using any social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc) please take part in her survey that attempts to identify social media users’ behaviours and attitudes with regards to uploading photos of themselves. There are no right or wrong answers as Ioanna is interested in understanding common attitudes and practices when using images to interact on social media.

The questionnaire should take no more than 20 to 30 minutes and will ask a series of questions about your privacy views, opinions, and practices surrounding social media.

On taking part you will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw of £100 shopping vouchers. The survey does not involve any particular risk but you must be aged over 18 to take part.


[CfP] Study on wellbeing and trust online

Have you been online for any reason in the last month? If so, we want to hear from you.

ReEnTrust is an interdisciplinary and collaborative project between the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Edinburgh. One of the aims of this project is to examine online wellbeing, and how this relates to trust.

We are currently running an online questionnaire which should take around 20 minutes to complete. You must be aged 16 years old or over to take part. The questionnaire will ask a series of questions about your online activity in the past four weeks, and ask you to rate statements about your experiences in terms of how true they are for you.

Click here to take part.

Your participation may help us understand how spending time online affects your wellbeing, and how this might be related to trust. This will help us to develop a measure for assessing online wellbeing and trust.

There will also be the opportunity to enter a prize draw for shopping vouchers (1x£100, 2x£50, 4x£25). There are no risks to taking part. We will not ask for any sensitive information and you will not be able to be identified from your responses.

Once again, the questionnaire can be found here.

Looking back (and a little bit forward)


This is Mike and the Mechanics. They sang the words “looking back over my shoulder” which I have had stuck in my head since I started this post.

Happy New Year!

I thought I would take this opportunity to recap on the past year, as a way to take stock and realise that I maybe actually did achieve some stuff  (hello impostor syndrome, my old friend), and lay out some of the things I have coming up in 2020.

2019 was the first year of the 2 year research project ReEnTrust, which I spend half my time working on. It is a collaboration between the Universities of Nottingham, Edinburgh, and Oxford, and focusses on issues on user trust in algorithmically mediated platforms. I work mostly on the part of the project that focuses on identifying the things that affect people’s trust in the websites they use, and how this might affect their behaviour and general wellbeing. In 2019 we ran 9 workshops with 75 participants in 2 age groups – 16-25 and over 65s. Other areas of the project have run stakeholder and policy engagement workshops, created mockups and prototypes of online tools, and ran public engagement events. The project followed on from the previous UnBias project, which we continue to publish results from. Four of my 2019 papers led directly from these projects:

I have had an abstract accepted to Ethicomp which will take place in Logroño, in La Rioja, Spain in June. It describes the preliminary creation of a scale to measure Online Wellbeing and trust. I will also be submitting a full paper for publication in an accompanying book/proceedings. We also submitted a journal paper on the impact of algorithmic decision-making processes on young people’s wellbeing just before Christmas, so hopefully that will be successful too.  This year will also see a large online study with the Online Wellbeing Scale and Trust Index to investigate how using the Internet affects general wellbeing and trust. We are also working on papers on online transparency, age appropriate content moderation, and the results of the workshops with both the older and younger adults so I’m going to be kept pretty busy writing!

The rest of my time is spent working on various other projects, some of which will hopefully also bare fruit in 2020. The ‘In My Seat’ project aimed to look at using technology to engage users of public transport in their journeys, and just before Christmas we submitted a paper detailing the co-creation of a prototype app. Also towards the end of the year we released our final online study for our project on Personal Understanding of Data, which is still running, and will be written up into a journal paper later this year. 

Finally, last year I spent quite a bit of time pursuing my own research interests in citizen science and crowdsourcing. This led to the following papers:


I also published a working paper on SSRN, resulting in work which will take up half of my time for at least the first part of this year, looking at the psychological basis of motivation to take part in online citizen science on the Zooniverse, including basic psychological needs and psychological distance. This is a result of years of useful chats (me rambling on to people who smile politely), and I am hugely excited about it.  

I also have some pretty exciting life changes coming up this year, so there may well be a part two of this blog. But for now, Happy New Year and good luck to us all for 2020.


[CfP] Sharing personal data with online services and apps


What types of information are you willing to share with online services, apps, websites and other digital platforms?

When you are asked to share this information, does the type of service it is affect this decision?

We are currently running an ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE to examine these questions. You will be shown a series of hypothetical apps and asked about the data you would be willing to share to use such a service. 

This research aims to understand how users of online services think about different types of data. To do this, a series of hypothetical apps have been created; this study will ask you to consider the use of different types of data by these services. The questionnaire should take no longer than 30 minutes and is open to everyone over the age of 18. 

Your participation will contribute to an ongoing research project to understand why different types of personal data are considered more or less controversial with regards to sharing with online services.

On completion you will be entered into a £50 voucher PRIZE DRAW

To take part click here.