This Article 
 Bibliographic References 
 Add to: 
Lying on Software Projects
November/December 2008 (vol. 25 no. 6)
pp. 90-95
Robert L. Glass, Computing Trends
Johann Rost, University Politehnica
Lying is an understudied activity, especially in the software field. Yet lying is apparently quite common. In a 2006 survey of software practitioners, 86 percent of the respondents had encountered such lying. The most common occurrences were in estimation and status reporting, with those forms of lying happening on 50 percent of projects, some respondents saying even 100 percent. Respondents said that when lying happens, developers at the bottom level of the management hierarchy are most aware of the lying; they often know it's happening even when their management doesn't. Respondents also provided numerous suggestions on how to diminish or eliminate lying. However, many suggested that it's human nature to lie and that little can be done about it.

1. A. Kornet, "The Truth about Lying," Psychology Today, vol. 30, no. 3, May/June 1997.
2. S.L. Pfleeger and B. Kitchenham, "Principles of Survey Research," ACM Software Eng. Notes, Dec. 1995 and following.
3. R. Hardin, "Trustworthiness," Ethics, vol. 107, Oct. 1996, pp. 26–42.
1. C.V. Ford, Lies! Lies! Lies! The Psychology of Deceit, Am. Psychiatric Press, 1996.
2. D.L. Smith, Why We Lie, St. Martin's Griffin, 2004.
3. A.M. Hoffman, "A Conceptualization of Trust in International Relations," European J. Int'l Relations, vol. 8, no. 3, 2002, pp. 375–401.
4. E.H. Schein, "Learning When and How to Lie: A Neglected Aspect of Organizational and Occupational Socialization," Human Relations, Mar. 2004, pp. 260–273.
5. S. Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, Vintage Books, 1999.
1. R.L. Sutton, Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation, Free Press, 2001.
2. R.L. Glass, The Software Practitioner, special issue on lying to management, Mar. 1993.
3. M. Halper, "IS Cover-up Charged in System Kill," Computerworld,10 Aug. 1992.
4. D.A. Windsor, "Communication Failures Contributing to the Challenger Accident: An Example for Technical Communicators," IEEE Trans. Professional Communication, vol. 31, no. 3, 1988, pp. 101–107.
5. "Plenty of Mutual Mistrust," InformationWeek,27 July 1992.
6. A.M. Davis, 201 Principles of Software Development, McGraw-Hill, 1995.
7. G. Booch, "Speaking Truth to Power," IEEE Software, vol. 24, no. 2, 2007, pp. 12–13.

Index Terms:
software project management, psychology of computer programming, sociology of computer programming, lying
Robert L. Glass, Johann Rost, Matthias S. Matook, "Lying on Software Projects," IEEE Software, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 90-95, Nov.-Dec. 2008, doi:10.1109/MS.2008.150
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.