Measuring affective states from technical debt: A psychoempirical software engineering experiment
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

Context: Software engineering is a human activity. Despite this, human aspects are under-represented in technical debt research, perhaps because they are challenging to evaluate.
Objective: This study’s objective was to investigate the relationship between technical debt and affective states (feelings, emotions, and moods) from software practitioners.
Method: Forty participants (N = 40) from twelve companies took part in a mixed-methods approach, consisting of a repeated-measures (r = 5) experiment (n = 200), a survey, and semi-structured interviews. From the qualitative data, it is clear that technical debt activates a substantial portion of the emotional spectrum and is psychologically taxing. Further, the practitioners’ reactions to technical debt appear to fall in different levels of maturity. Results: The statistical analysis shows that different design smells (strong indicators of technical debt) negatively or positively impact affective states. Conclusions: We argue that human aspects in technical debt are important factors to consider, as they may result in, e.g., procrastination, apprehension, and burnout.

Bayesian statistical analysis

Empirical Study

Affective States

Technical Debt

Psychoempirical Software Engineering

Software Development


Jesper Olsson

Göteborgs universitet

Erik Risfelt

Göteborgs universitet

Terese Besker

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering

Antonio Martini

Universitetet i Oslo

Richard Torkar

Göteborgs universitet

Universiteit Stellenbosch

Empirical Software Engineering

1382-3256 (ISSN) 1573-7616 (eISSN)

Vol. 26 5 105




Systemvetenskap, informationssystem och informatik med samhällsvetenskaplig inriktning



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