The effect of noise on software engineers' performance

Simone Romano, Giuseppe Scanniello, Davide Fucci, Natalia Juristo, Burak Turhan

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Noise, defined as an unwanted sound, is one of the commonest factors that could affect people's performance in their daily work activities. The software engineering research community has marginally investigated the effects of noise on software engineers' performance. Aims: We studied if noise affects software engineers' performance in: (i) comprehending functional requirements and (ii) fixing faults in source code. Method: We conducted two experiments with final-year undergraduate students in Computer Science. In the first experiment, we asked 55 students to comprehend functional requirements exposing them or not to noise, while in the second experiment 42 students were asked to fix faults in Java code. Results: The participants in the second experiment, when exposed to noise, had significantly worse performance in fixing faults in source code. On the other hand, we did not observe any statistically significant difference in the first experiment. Conclusions: Fixing faults in source code seems to be more vulnerable to noise than comprehending functional requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement, ESEM 2018
Subtitle of host publicationOctober 11-12, 2018, Oulu, Finland
EditorsDaniel Méndez, Audris Mockus
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450358231
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement 2018 - Oulu, Finland
Duration: 11 Oct 201812 Oct 2018
Conference number: 12th


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement 2018
Abbreviated titleESEM 2018
Internet address


  • Bug fixing
  • Controlled experiment
  • Functional requirement
  • Noise

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