Help with research

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Apologies for this off-topic post.

I'm a Java/C++ developer who is also studying psychology.

I would really appreciate it if you would complete a survey that I'm
using for a research project on programmers.

It's easy [Yes/No answers] and takes about 5 minutes.

I will be presenting the results at the American Psychological
Association convention in August.

The study link is:


The survey measures "cognitive style" (analytical/intuitive) which
describes how you process information and learn. The people I've
pre-tested it with found it to be pretty interesting.

I can go to my friends, however it occurred to me that it might be
better to post in a newsgroup and get a larger, more diverse, and
random sample.

Thanks again for your time,


Re: Help with research

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Interesting work! The psychology of programming is definitely something
worthy of more investigation. Given that software development is largely the
work of the mind, there really needs to be a specialised field dedicated to
those who work in the industry. If there's sport psychology, why not
software development psychology?

I took your online survey and I must say, I found it a bit too
transparent--that is to say, it's not hard to see how the answers will be
interpreted. The results I think would end up showing not how people think
but how people want themselves to think. Since programmers like to see
themselves as analytic thinkers, I bet the majority of the results will give
you just that.

The analytical/intuitive distinction also fails to capture the linguistic
aspect of computer programming. Computer languages are languages after all,
and over time, programmers do acquire them. Experienced programmers can
often program without much conscious thinking. That's not intuition at work.
That's language instinct.

Re: Help with research

Chung Leong wrote:
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Fascinating, I'm not too sure I agree with the conclusions, however the
site is well worth a visit.

Re: Help with research

Chung Leong wrote:
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Hi Chung,

I agree with you in that computer languages can become another language
to think in, in so far as its possible to predict what a programming
language is going to do in a particular set of circumstances.

Its akin to the ability to read a music scoresheet and hear the music
without a note being played. I know that sounds a little strange, but I
do know one music teacher who can read a score and have the sounds in
their head, and that remark probably sounds extremely weird. I can't do
it myself as I'm tone deaf <g>.

However, I can do it with a couple of computer languages in that I can
write programs without conscious thought. Oh Hell I'm explaining this so
ineptly I think I'd better give up


Re: Help with research

I think I know what you mean. I'm a programmer and a musician. I can
read music I've never heard and hear it. And, I do sometimes dream
about programming. Sort of like walking around in the code, putting
things together. I think I've had the experience that you're
describing. It's like a zone or something that I've heard athletes
describe. Has anybody read a book called "The Psychology of Computer

P.S. Thanks to everyone for their help with this work.


Re: Help with research


This may interest you too:
I am an experienced OO developer and have a friend that is so too. We
both can make good money from it so i guess we both must have at least a
bit of talent for it.

A short while ago we had a project we could work on together. We wanted
that for a long time, but never got any further than a few hours hobby
work. We tried to do pair programming: One behind the keyboard, the
other looks, asks questions and gives opinions. It was a disaster. When
i was programming my friend could not follow what i was doing: he saw
it, but had no clue what i was trying to accomplish. We tried to change
places. Same result: i could inderstand the code itself as he wrote it,
but why he did make it the way he did: no idea. Yet when we did not work
together and just each developed a part of the program, we could both
follow one anothers finished code after studying it for a while.

I think with respect to the larger scale design we are not so different.
We both learned OOP and OOD before design patterns existed so we both
rather invent ourselves then following pre-coocked design patterns.
Enough to disagree on, one would say. Yet we actually agreed on most
desing issues. We both follow an explorative development aproach in
which the design actually evolves from refactoring the code. But when we
are actually do programming, the way we evolve the code into similar
designs seems to be verry different.

The style of my friends code (the way it looks and reads) is very
different from mine. He uses long method names, and works out the specs
just like if he writes a novel. It is very consequently structured, each
and every semantic step is coded out entirely. This makes his code look
pritty impressive, but for me it remains a bit "unaccessable" because i
can not scan through it and recognise patterns, i really have to read
it. For him my code looks somewhat messy, to understand what it does he
  wants to add lots of comments, or rename almost every class and method.

 From this i got the impression that we process code in very different
ways: he seems to do it like reading and writing natual language.
Definitions are very important to him, semantics must be expressed
explicitly. On the other hand i suspect myself from relying more on
graphs. The actual visible appearance of the code plays a role too. I
think this because i have a bad memory for names, numbers, facts and
such, but i can remember places and the way i walked or drove quite in
well, especially if i did use a map. And when i close all my windows on
the desktop and the next day i continue work on the same windows (our
IDE does that), i feel disoriented when the windows do not appear in the
same place in the task bar (they usually don't ;-( ).

Hope this inspires you to continue your good work.


Henk Verhoeven,
MetaClass. wrote:

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Re: Help with research


Yes. Your story illustrates the types of experiences that led me to
this particular project. I think that people with different cognitive
styles often find it frustrating to work together. Perhaps gaining some
understanding of another's way of processing information might make it
less so.

You reminded me of some of the work I did as a junior programmer many
years ago. Structured programming was a new concept. I was given the
job of pouring through reams of unstructured code and modularizing it.
It turned out that I was really good at it. I think it was because I
was able to see patterns there. It was (and is) very visual for me.

Another thing that comes to mind is differences in how we find our way
while driving. From what I read here ( /)
I would not be surprised if you use the survey method (I know I do),
while your friend may be more comfortable with the "following specific
directions" method. The methods are different, but one is not
necessarily better than the other.

Thanks again for the good wishes,


Re: Help with research

On 17 Feb 2005 15:39:07 -0800, wrote:

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 This looks quite similar to a Keirsey Temperament Sorter but it gave a single
numeric score rather than the four aspects that the Keirsey test gives - are
they related?

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