Primers or reminders the effects of existing review comments on code review
Paper in proceeding, 2020

In contemporary code review, the comments put by reviewers on a specific code change are immediately visible to the other reviewers involved. Could this visibility prime new reviewers' attention (due to the human's proneness to availability bias), thus biasing the code review outcome In this study, we investigate this topic by conducting a controlled experiment with 85 developers who perform a code review and a psychological experiment. With the psychological experiment, we find that 70% of participants are prone to availability bias. However, when it comes to the code review, our experiment results show that participants are primed only when the existing code review comment is about a type of bug that is not normally considered; when this comment is visible, participants are more likely to find another occurrence of this type of bug. Moreover, this priming effect does not influence reviewers' likelihood of detecting other types of bugs. Our findings suggest that the current code review practice is effective because existing review comments about bugs in code changes are not negative primers, rather positive reminders for bugs that would otherwise be overlooked during code review. Data and materials:

Availability heuristic

Code review



Davide Spadini

Delft University of Technology

Gul Calikli

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Software Engineering (Chalmers), Software Engineering for Testing, Requirements, Innovation and Psychology

Alberto Bacchelli

University of Zürich

Proceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering

02705257 (ISSN)

1171-1182 3380385

42nd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2020
Virtual, Online, South Korea,

Subject Categories

Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Human Aspects of ICT



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