The Hidden Requirements: Exploring Emotions with Placebos

The way we feel is important!

All that we think, do, or say is influenced, to some degree, by emotions. Many successful businesses and people recognize the importance of emotional considerations.

The way we feel is important and should be considered!

All software is intended to help solve some problem, and both problems and solutions evoke emotions. Software requirements are simply wants or needs, which often stem from core emotions. Research shows that emotions can affect the acceptance or rejection of software.

The way we feel about software is important and should be considered!

A placebo is designed and used primarily to evoke emotions. Things like sugar pills, false elevator door close buttons, and fake office thermostats aim “to please”, rather than have any other physical effects. Placebo requirements focus on emotions. And so, considering software through the lens of a placebo can help emphasize emotional considerations, and provide a valuable perspective on bugs, ethical design, and much more.

In this session, I support the claims above, suggest some methods to elicit and test emotional requirements, and finally, use placebos as a lens to view software design and testing. Using presentations, demonstrations, and interactive discussions and exercises, we collaboratively explore why “The way we feel about software is important and should be considered!”.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

This is a 45-minute version of a 1-hour talk, or half-day workshop.

The talk consists of: A claim, support of my claim (via an appeal to authority and emotion with quotes; a deep consideration of "the purpose of software"; field research; a study of requirements, wants/needs), and actions to take based on my claim (how to design, develop, and test emotional requirements; and how to use placebos to gain insight into emotional requirements).

Learning Outcome

A much deeper understanding of 1) why we make software, 2) what requirements are, and 3) what requirements are typically neglected.

Ways to act on this.

Target Audience

PMs, BAs, Devs, Testers, and anyone else that contributes to making software

Prerequisites for Attendees

No prereqs



schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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