The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just published a study, “Extraneous factors in judicial decisions”, that finds decision making is mentally taxing and when people are forced to continually make difficult decisions, they get tired and begin opting for the easiest decision.

Eight parole board judges were observed for 10 months, as they ruled whether or not to grant prisoners parole.  The study noticed a trend.  Near the end of work periods, prisoners being granted parole dropped significantly.  The decision of granting parole takes much longer to explain and involves more work than the decision to deny parole. 

(For those of you reading my blog from prison, try to get your parole hearing scheduled first thing in the morning or right after lunch.)

What does this remind you of?

Testing!  I don’t have the ambition to perform said study on test teams, but I have certainly experienced the same pattern.  I’m guessing fewer bugs get logged latter in the day.  The decision that you found a bug is a much more difficult decision than denial.  Deciding you found a bug means investigating, logging a report, convincing people sometimes, testing the fix, regression testing what broke, etc.

I wrote about Tester Fatigue and suggested solutions in How To Combat Tester Fatigue.  But according to the above study, taking breaks from testing is paramount.  Therefore, I will now head downstairs for some frozen yogurt.


  1. Jeremy said...

    Yes! Painfully true. And when you're in that moment, I've found it very hard to say, "Ok, jot down what you just did, and come back in the morning." Instead, I often either take the easy route (pretend it's fine) or slog through a messy bug report when I'm too tired to think clearly.

  2. Darren McMillan said...

    I find it helps to collate one liners and error dumps in a notepad file, or even using a SBTM tool such as Session Tester.

    This way you're focusing purely on testing, and the reporting side can come in the latter part of the day, when fatigue kicks in.

    Nice post, love the quirkiness.

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