Consequences of unhappiness while developing software

Daniel Graziotin*, Fabian Fagerholm, Xiaofeng Wang, Pekka Abrahamsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The growing literature on affect among software developers mostly reports on the linkage between happiness, software quality, and developer productivity. Understanding the positive side of happiness - positive emotions and moods - is an attractive and important endeavor. Scholars in industrial and organizational psychology have suggested that also studying the negative side - unhappiness - could lead to cost-effective ways of enhancing working conditions, job performance, and to limiting the occurrence of psychological disorders. Our comprehension of the consequences of (un)happiness among developers is still too shallow, and is mainly expressed in terms of development productivity and software quality. In this paper, we attempt to uncover the experienced consequences of unhappiness among software developers. Using qualitative data analysis of the responses given by 181 questionnaire participants, we identified 49 consequences of unhappiness while doing software development. We found detrimental consequences on developers' mental well-being, the software development process, and the produced artifacts. Our classification scheme, available as open data, will spawn new happiness research opportunities of cause-effect type, and it can act as a guideline for practitioners for identifying damaging effects of unhappiness and for fostering happiness on the job.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2017 IEEE/ACM 2nd International Workshop on Emotion Awareness in Software Engineering, SEmotion 2017
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781538627938
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventIEEE/ACM International Workshop on Emotion Awareness in Software Engineering - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Duration: 21 May 201721 May 2017
Conference number: 2


WorkshopIEEE/ACM International Workshop on Emotion Awareness in Software Engineering
Abbreviated titleSEmotion
CityBuenos Aires


  • affect
  • behavioral software engineering
  • developer experience
  • emotion
  • happiness
  • human aspects
  • mood


Dive into the research topics of 'Consequences of unhappiness while developing software'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this