Effect of time-pressure on perceived and actual performance in functional software testing

Iflaah Salman, Burak Turhan

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

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Time-pressure is an inevitable reality of software industry that influences the performance of software engineers. It may result in adverse effects on software quality or distort the perception of performance on executed tasks to differ from actual performance. 

Objective: We aim to investigate the effect of timepressure on perceived and actual performance of software testers in the context of functional software testing. 

Method: We performed two controlled experiments with 87 graduate students in two academic terms. We assessed actual performance in terms of coverage (i.e. percentage of test cases correctly identified) and perceived performance using NASA-TLX. We have an independent factorial design for our experimental study. 

Results: The results reveal a significant effect of time-pressure on actual performance. However, we could not observe a significant effect of time-pressure on the perceived performance of the participants for the task undertaken. We also observed a significant negative correlation between actual and perceived performance when controlled for time-pressure and experimental session factors. 

Conclusion: Time-pressure affects the actual performance in a testing task but the perception of accomplishment by the testers is sustained irrespective of time-pressure, indicating an over-estimation issue. Perception of performance should be adjusted to align with reality to account for the effect of time pressure. This will lead to better self estimates of performance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICSSP 2018 - May 26-27 – Gothenburg, Sweden
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2018 International Conference on Software and System Process
EditorsMarco Kuhrmann, Rory V. O’Connor, Dan Houston, Regina Hebig
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450364591
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Software and System Process 2018 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 26 May 201827 May 2018
https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3202710&picked=prox (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Software and System Process 2018
Abbreviated titleICSSP 2018
Internet address


  • Experiment
  • Performance
  • Self-assessment
  • Software Quality
  • Software Testing
  • Time Pressure

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