A case for human values in software engineering

Jon Whittle, Maria Angela Ferrario, William Simm, Waqar Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that human values – such as responsibility, transparency, creativity, and equality – are heavily under-represented in software engineering methods. Based on experiences with real-world projects with not-for-profits, we explore how human values can be integrated into existing participatory agile practices. We propose new ways of considering human values in software practice, including: the use of the Schwartz taxonomy of human values and values portraits to contextualise values definitions; the use of values as a way to capture the rationale for requirements to ensure a culture of values throughout the software lifecycle; and a simple adaptation of agile methods to include a role for a ‘critical friend’ who can champion values during decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-113
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Software
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • D.2.1 Requirements/Specifications
  • D.2.14 Human Factors in Software Design
  • H.1.2.b Human-centered computing

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