Dr Brian Henson

Dr Brian Henson


  • Director of Mechanical Engineering programme at Joint School at Southwest Jiaotong University
  • Director of Taught Postgraduate Studies

Research interests

Dr Henson has been a lecturer in design and manufacture in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Leeds since 1996. He leads research in affective engineering, which is concerned with optimising the design of products to elicit particular emotional engagement with consumers.   Of particular research interest is the application of Rasch measurement theory in affective engineering, and the development of models relating people's affective responses to the contact mechanics of human touch.  Current activities include:

  • Robust measurement of affective responses from paired comparisons of products.  This project seeks to reduce the effects of bias and large variance of people's responses when using self-report questionnaires to evaluate products, by the application of Rasch measurement theory to analyse paired comparisons of products.  The work will also establish reference models for developing items for self-report questionnaires.
  • Prototyping surface textures. This work will result in the science to manufacture bespoke surface textures which evoke particular affective responses or have particular psychophysical properties. 
  • Application of Rasch measurement theory in task evaluation.  We are attempting to measure the difficulty of tasks in computer games using Rasch theory.  This will have direct application to physiotherapy robotics, and is applicable more broadly in human factors engineering to situations in which different quantities need to be combined into a single measurement scale.
  • Cues for the perception of softness in human touch.  
  • Quantitative methods for measuring affective response. This will lead to off-the-shelf instruments that companies could use without specialist expertise in affective engineering.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Assembly Representation in a Product Data Environment (University of Leeds)
  • B.Eng Electronic and Electrical Engineering (University of London)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (University of Leeds)

Professional memberships

  • Member of IET

Student education

I lead the School of Mechanical Engineering's involvement with the Joint School with Southwest Jiaotong University in Chendu, China.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Design, Robotics and Optimisation
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>