8 Cognitive Biases in Software Development

Hello everybody!

I noticed some years ago that many of our decisions (mine or my colleagues) were sometimes influenced by cognitive biases, which push us to take wrong decision. I discovered that many books and articles where written on the subject, but none were really focused on software development.

This article is my attempt to show how cognitive biases can pop up in software development. I give as well as many hints as possible how to avoid these traps.


  • We all fall into cognitive bias’ traps. Being aware of the most commons will give you an edge to avoid them.
  • Don’t blame the responsible for the bias, but fix the possible situations the bias is acting on.
  • The most studied biases in software development are the optimistic bias, the confirmation bias, and the anchoring bias.
  • The bandwagon effect, the cargo cult and the correspondence bias are frequent, too. They can have disastrous effects on software projects.
  • Debiasing can be resumed as following:
    • Be careful with quick decision and take time to search for more information.
    • Play Devil’s advocate for important decisions and actions.
    • Ask yourself what and who can influence your judgment unreasonably.

Any feedback is, as always, welcome!


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