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Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better 121

Posted by timothy
from the beatings-continued-until-morale-improved dept.
First time accepted submitter HagraBiscuit (2756527) writes Researchers from the Faculty of Computer Science, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy, have quantified and analysed affective mood index against objective measures of problem-solving effectiveness for a group of software developers. From the report abstract: "The results offer support for the claim that happy developers are indeed better problem solvers in terms of their analytical abilities. The following contributions are made by this study: (1) providing a better understanding of the impact of affective states on the creativity and analytical problem-solving capacities of developers, (2) introducing and validating psychological measurements, theories, and concepts of affective states, creativity, and analytical-problem-solving skills in empirical software engineering, and (3) raising the need for studying the human factors of software engineering by employing a multidisciplinary viewpoint.
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Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    People who are happy do better at things.

    • That doesn't always apply in the arts.

  • True of any job. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @11:05AM (#47360315)

    It's not just software development, but any job. If the employees are happy about how they're being treated, they'll do the best job they can, because they want to stay with the company. If they're not, they're going to do the bare minimum to stay employed while they look for another job at a better company.

    • by disposable60 (735022) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @11:11AM (#47360369) Journal

      It's not just work.

      Happy people just plain _human_ better.

      Playing on FUD (and creating it if there isn't enough) is what turns people into monsters.

      • Beatings will continue until you are happy and productive.

        • Beatings will continue until you are happy and productive.

          There are MILLIONS of people in [Third World Country] who would be HAPPY to do your job for 1/6th the price!

          • Their cost of living is 1/6 too.

            • Their cost of living is 1/6 too.

              As would yours, if you were willing to accept that a refrigerator is a luxury item, that air conditioning was a rare extravagance, that electrical power was not something you could expect to be there any time you wanted it.

          • Their productivity would be considerably less than 1/6 as well

            • Their productivity would be considerably less than 1/6 as well

              If quality were that important relative to price, Wal-Mart would have gone out of business years ago.

              We'd rather buy cheap junk and think that we're "rich".

              • It's not that simple. WallMart can't give away the shoes they sell. Don't know why they still stock them.

                But other products are decent quality and often as not, identical to the product sold at competitor's stores. Just like a 'Harbor Freight' cherry picker. It's good enough.

                • It's not that simple. WallMart can't give away the shoes they sell. Don't know why they still stock them.

                  But other products are decent quality and often as not, identical to the product sold at competitor's stores. Just like a 'Harbor Freight' cherry picker. It's good enough.

                  Long before Sam Walton was born and selling American-made products wherever he could, there was this business concept known as the "Loss Leader".

                  You'd sell something for less than what you paid for it in the expectation that it would either pull people in who'd then be tempted to buy stuff with higher profit margins or at least to ensure that they didn't go elsewhere to buy something you didn't stock and pick up things they'd otherwise buy from you (to your profit) from a competitor. That's your crappy shoe

                  • I am aware that some products at wallyworld are different then similar products elsewhere, hence I wrote 'as not'. Buyer beware is always on.

                    Don't believe another word from whoever told you the battery story. It's laughable, from a quality control POV. You really think that at battery line is that variable? Is your view of the industrial workplace best informed by 'The Simpsons'?

                    • Don't believe another word from whoever told you the battery story. It's laughable, from a quality control POV. You really think that at battery line is that variable? Is your view of the industrial workplace best informed by 'The Simpsons'?

                      I hate to pop your bubble, but I used to work for a company that provided their testing and grading machines.

                    • So what was the variability? Realize I actually understand electro-chemistry?

                    • So what was the variability? Realize I actually understand electro-chemistry?

                      Beats me. I was just a flunky back then. My boss was the engineer.

                      At least some of these things were lithium batteries, as I understand it. The person who came after me claimed to have blown a hole in the floor when he dropped one accidentally.

                      I have a LaCrosse charger that will test and return stats on NiCD and NiMh AAA and AA cells. I just used it to screen batteries for Hurricane Season. Some of them didn't even come close to rated capacity, even when they didn't ring up as flat "defective". Presumably t

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not necessarily. I have had jobs where I was quite unhappy, but I gave every project my best effort, as I had coworkers/managers, etc who were not responsible for the sucky job conditions that depended on my work. Most employees know that it is wise to leave a good impression, as it may bring opportunities down the road. Being unhappy or dissatisfied with your job but busting your ass anyway is a trait that tends to be remembered.

    • It's not just about putting in more effort to stay with the company, or putting in more effort out of loyalty. Both of those can play a role in increase efficiency, but it's also the fact that your brain's ability to function is impacted by mood. You will think differently when you're under stress, panicked, depressed, worried, happy, horny, angry, or hungry. Being in a "happy" state is often good for solving the kinds of problems that present themselves at work.

      Some people make the mistake of saying so

      • by thhamm (764787)

        under stress, panicked, depressed, worried, happy, horny, angry, or hungry.

        Where is 'drunk'? http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/ba... [xkcd.com]

        Have to try coding horny though. Is it any good? :)

    • by matbury (3458347)

      Not true of any job but very true of jobs where analytical and critical thinking are necessary/important. Also a major factor in learning outcomes in education. Unless we accept that software developers are a separate and distinct species to homo sapiens, we've had conclusive science on this issue for decades, e.g. Stephen Krashen published his findings and formed the Affective Filter hypothesis for second language acquisition back in 1982: http://sdkrashen.com/content/b... [sdkrashen.com]

      How many MBAs and HR degrees incl

    • It's not just software development, but any job./p>

      Well, then Facebook can just use their mood-altering voodoo to make the world happy, and the whole world will be a better place, right . . . ?

      Or they could Dr. Evil with it, and cause the collapse of our civilization!

    • by ultranova (717540)

      If the employees are happy about how they're being treated, they'll do the best job they can, because they want to stay with the company. If they're not, they're going to do the bare minimum to stay employed while they look for another job at a better company.

      More to the point, if your employees hate you, the urge to harm you in revenge is going to be part of everything they do. There isn't necessarily any calculation, or even conscious decisions, things just start going wrong. People will do their job exa

    • "It's not just software development, but any job. If the employees are happy about how they're being treated, they'll do the best job they can, because they want to stay with the company."
      ...

      It also means they've got "buy-in". They approve of what you're having them do. The goals/aims are ones they want to work toward; they're worthwhile. They might see themselves as having a chance to have a proportional share in the firm's success.

      But if the firm is doing bad things; if set A are getting the big bo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Happy people at work are more motivated to work than people that are inside a cubicle for 12 hours with the boss breathing on their neck.

  • This is one more tricky aspect of managing software or any other creative/analytic project. You can start with the smartest, happiest people in the world, only to have your schedule blown because one of them is going through a messy divorce or a loved one gets cancer. The bad vibes can drag a whole team down. I forsee a huge market in happy pepper-upper pills for programmers. Oh, wait. That's what coffee is for.
    • I forsee a huge market in happy pepper-upper pills for programmers. Oh, wait. That's what coffee is for.

      Exactly! I go to work with a 2-quart thermos full of stovetop-percolated coffee.

      I pound coffee until I become happy. Well, happy maybe isn't the word...but enough coffee and I'm like "Wow, this badly-written code is just FASCINATING! I can't WAIT to fix this crap while my so-called co-workers are off creating even MORE piles of crap for me to clean up! WOOOOOOOOO!!!"

      I have a Gladware container full of chocolate-covered coffee beans too, for when 2 quarts of coffee isn't enough.

  • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @11:13AM (#47360397)
    The beatings will continue until morale improves
  • Am I the only one who thought of employer-sponsored twice-a-day blowjobs?

    ...

    Oh, I am. Dammit, this looks bad.

  • Talk about a headline from the No Screaming Shit Department, of course happier programmers are going to do a better job. There's no motivation to do your job well when you're miserable. That's why the team dynamics are more important than individual skill. I've seen one hot-shot programmer with great coding skills and horrendous personal skills totally undermine the team dynamic. No amount of skill makes up for being an arrogant ass.

  • Happy developers? I didn't even know that was a "thing"
    How could they have possibly run this test?!!? Frauds!

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      How could they have possibly run this test?!!?

      By manipulating Facebook news feeds.

      /ducks

  • For developers to be happy in the first place, there's gotta be less administrative and politics bs to begin with. No wonder programmers are more efficient in such environment
  • solve problems best of all.
  • The easy, obvious, and self-serving interpretation: making programmers happy will make them more effective at solving problems. Alternative interpretation: people who are good at solving problems are happier than people who aren't. Corollary: maybe adding a foosball table in the lobby won't help after all.
    • by Shados (741919)

      More generic interpretation:

      People get good at doing stuff they care about.

    • by Draugo (1674528)
      As someone who has been suffering from increasing depression for the past 6 years I can confidently say that there is a clear causation between level of happiness and problem solving/solution implementation speed at least for me. I've watched mine decline rapidly with my condition and furthermore I'm more productive on those days when I don't feel as depressed as usually (I can usually feel the difference even before getting to work).
  • Stupid problems are often the way to sad developers. We once had a customer require in a custom interface to make "check boxes" mutually exclusive - when we suggested that industry-standard was to use radio buttons for that type of selection we were told they were just "more comfortable" with the squares, but didn't want users to be able to pick more than one.

    Stupid. Sad.

  • public happylittle HelloWorld : hugs Object {
    public ecstatic ambitious main(String[] compliments :-) {
    weee (int i =) 0 ; i 10; i++ :-) {
    Compy.outAndProud.prettyplease.print("Hello, World!!!!" :-);
    }
    }
    }

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      Now that you've proposed it, someone's going to hack a language entirely out of smileys.

  • This was from the "beatings-continued-until-morale-improved" dept. It should have been from the "tremendous-grasp-of-the-obvious" dept.
  • Happy means you have more time to focus on the task at hand vs focusing on stress things that maybe non-work related (e.g. relationship issues).

    Stressful employers makes it even worse to focus on anything in general, cause it leads to worrying about your job, aka income.

  • Looking away from my code for a moment, I'm reminded of a quote from the movie "Bridge on the River Kwai" "Colonel Saito: Let me remind you of General Yamashita's motto: be happy in your work."
  • That's what it is.

    The end of quarter profit is what matters. Suck it up and take it like a man! Pull your weight like a true team player or you'll be let go to make way for a flexible, empowered, dedicated business-oriented go-getter from the thousands of them queuing up at the door.

    If you can't do it right, or don't like it, get out. Don't drag the team down with you, loser.

  • (1) providing a better understanding of the impact of affective states on the creativity and analytical problem-solving capacities of developers, (2) introducing and validating psychological measurements, theories, and concepts of affective states, creativity, and analytical-problem-solving skills in empirical software engineering, and (3) raising the need for studying the human factors of software engineering by employing a multidisciplinary viewpoint.

    Buzzwords make me sad.

  • As someone who spiraled from mild depression to serious depression (where I still am) during the first four years of working at a software company I can confidently say that this was true at least for me. Furthermore the deeper into depression I fell the worse I became at problem solving and that deepened my depression even more because I felt I couldn't do my job as well as before and it also sucked enjoyment out of the job. It's a problem I struggle with every day. I try to keep telling myself that what I
  • I always thought that beer made me a better coder, and now here is the proof!! Woo Hoo!!

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