Developers’ conscientiousness key to limiting software bugs, researchers say

Researchers find mood plays big role in whether IT systems staff self reports on errors

Developers’ conscientiousness key to limiting software bugs, researchers say

University researchers have found that organizations looking to clean up their IT systems need to pay more attention to the moods and personalities of those people working on them.

"Organizations focus too much on the technical and mechanical aspects of IT errors, rather than the human and environmental aspects of the errors," said Sumantra Sarkar, assistant professor of information systems at Binghamton University’s School of Management, in a statement. "Our study suggests the mood and personality traits of the software development team affect how they report on self-committed errors in IT projects. A minor glitch in design or programming can have devastating consequences."

Sarkar joined forces on "The roles of mood and conscientiousness in reporting of self-committed errors on IT projects" paper published in Information Systems Journal with Hyung Koo Lee of HEC Montréal, Mark Keil of Georgia State University and Jeff Smith of Miami University.

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The researchers say that current research focuses too much on issues such as budget and labor shortages and doesn’t look closely enough at individuals on IT teams. Among the researchers’ findings: IT workers in a good mood actually self-report fewer errors than those in a bad mood, as “being in a positively elevated state can impede one's cognitive processing." Both managers and employees need to be cognizant of their moods to determine how they could affect IT systems development, the researchers say.

Conscientiousness was also identified as a key factor in whether employees self report IT system errors. “Conscientious workers have a strong sense of duty and selflessness and are more willing to report self-committed errors," Sarkar said. "Managers should be aware that conscientious team members are less susceptible to the influences of mood on decision making."

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