The Role of Linguistic Relativity on the Identification of Sustainability Requirements: An Empirical Study
Linguistic-Relativity-Theory states that language and its structure influence people’s world view and cognition. We investigate how this theory impacts the identification of requirements in practice. To this end, we conducted two controlled experiments with 101 participants. We randomly showed participants a set of requirements dimensions (i.e. a language structure) either with a focus on software quality or on sustainability and asked them to identify the requirements for a grocery shopping app according to these dimensions. Participants of the control group were not given any dimensions. The results show that the use of requirements dimensions significantly increases the number of identified requirements in comparison to the control group. Furthermore, participants who were given the sustainability dimensions identified more sustainability requirements. In follow up interviews with 16 practitioners, the interviewees reported benefits of the dimensions such as holistic guidance but were also concerned about the customers acceptance. Furthermore, they stated challenges of implementing sustainability dimensions in the daily business but also suggested solutions like establishing sustainability as a common standard. Our study indicates that carefully structuring requirements engineering along sustainability dimensions can guide development teams towards considering and ensuring software sustainability.
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