Personality, emotional intelligence and work preferences in software engineering: An empirical study
Journal article, 2014
Context: There is an increasing awareness among Software Engineering (SE) researchers and practitioners that more focus is needed on understanding the engineers developing software. Previous studies show significant associations between the personalities of software engineers and their work preferences. Objective: Various studies on personality in SE have found large, small or no effects and there is no consensus on the importance of psychometric measurements in SE. There is also a lack of studies employing other psychometric instruments or using larger datasets. We aim to evaluate our results in a larger sample, with software engineers in an earlier state of their career, using advanced statistics. Method: An operational replication study where extensive psychometric data from 279 master level students have been collected in a SE program at a Swedish University. Personality data based on the Five-Factor Model, Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire and Self-compassion have been collected. Statistical analysis investigated associations between psychometrics and work preferences and the results were compared to our previous findings from 47 SE professionals. Results: Analysis confirms existence of two main clusters of software engineers; one with more "intense" personalities than the other. This corroborates our earlier results on SE professionals. The student data also show similar associations between personalities and work preferences. However, for other associations there are differences due to the different population of subjects. We also found connections between the emotional intelligence and work preferences, while no associations were found for self-compassion. Conclusion: The associations can help managers to predict and adapt projects and tasks to available staff. The results also show that the Emotional Intelligence instrument can be predictive. The research methods and analytical tools we employ can detect subtle associations and reflect differences between different groups and populations and thus can be important tools for future research as well as industrial practice.
Five Factor Model