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Code Review Anxiety

Problem: The lack of an empirical model and evidence-based intervention for code review anxiety (anxiety about giving or receiving code reviews), despite it being a common, widely-documented experience for software developers that leads to counterproductive behaviors, such as avoiding code reviews, engaging in "rubber stamping", or procrastinating in opening and reviewing pull requests, among other things.

Outcomes & Solutions: We developed and empirically tested a model of code review anxiety, as well as a cognitive-behavioral code review anxiety workshop intervention for software developers. The intervention successfully reduced code review anxiety, increased self-efficacy to manage anxiety, and increased self-compassion.


Purpose & Method: Survey conducted to understand and identify the target mechanisms maintaining and exacerbating code review anxiety. 

Outcome: Anxiety Self-Efficacy, the belief in developers' abilities to tolerate or manage their code review anxiety emerged as a primary intervention target for Code Review Anxiety. Code Review Anxiety also emerged as a primary factor increasing Code Review Avoidance, highlighting the importance of mitigating code review anxiety if developers, teams, and organizations want to take advantage of the documented benefits of code reviews, such as improved code quality and security, learning and knowledge transfer, collaborative and creative problem solving, and trust and community building.



Purpose & Method: Developed a single-session cognitive behavioral workshop intervention for code review anxiety and tested the effectiveness of the workshop using a Randomized Controlled Trial.

Outcome: the Code Review Anxiety Workshop Intervention was effective. The workshop was highly effective in reducing code review anxiety and increasing anxiety self-efficacy. The workshop also increased developers' self-compassion. 

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