Website by Damian Synadinos

The Hidden Requirements: Exploring Emotions with Placebos


Exploring the importance of emotional considerations in software.

Audience: PMs, BAs, developers, testers, and more.

Duration: 1-4 hours

Sample Topics

  • Ethical design

  • Essential characteristics of problems and solutions

  • Getting and measuring emotional requirements


The way we feel is important!


All that we think, do, or say is influenced, to some degree, by emotions. Many successful businesses and people recognize the importance of emotional considerations.


The way we feel is important and should be considered!


All software is intended to help solve some problem, and both problems and solutions evoke emotions. Software requirements are simply wants or needs, which often stem from core emotions. Research shows that emotions can affect the acceptance or rejection of software.


The way we feel about software is important and should be considered!


A placebo is designed and used primarily to evoke emotions. Things like sugar pills, false elevator door close buttons, and fake office thermostats aim “to please”, rather than have any other physical effects. Placebo requirements focus on emotions. And so, considering software through the lens of a placebo can help emphasize emotional considerations, and provide a valuable perspective on bugs, ethical design, and much more.


In this session, I support the claims above, suggest some methods to elicit and test emotional requirements, and finally, use placebos as a lens to view software design and testing. Using presentations, demonstrations, and interactive discussions and exercises, we collaboratively explore why “The way we feel about software is important and should be considered!”.

Slide Deck

You delivered one of the best talks I've heard in the last five years (I've heard many) at the QA or the Highway conference in Columbus. Excellent argument and delivery!

-David Schraff, 2018 QA or the Highway conference, Columbus, OH

I thought your talk was insanely valuable. The sheer volume of knowledge-bits you packed into that hour was impressive.

-Jennifer Kissinger, 2018 Ohio DevFest, Cincinnati, OH

[Damian] gave a presentation, "The Hidden Requirements: Exploring Emotions with Placebos", which was different from any I had heard all day. It spoke to the softer skills and fundamental concepts that are below all the process, tool, project, and business issues related to this industry/any industry. It was inclusive of the social and emotional aspects of why we are creating technology in the first place. It was a breath of fresh air! Some items in these slides really spoke to me on both a professional and personal level.

-Julie Duffy, 2018 QA or the Highway conference, Columbus, OH

As a developer this talk helped give me a better perspective on a users perception of software and how emotions have an important impact on all aspects of software design and requirements.

-Anonymous Feedback, 2018 CodeMash conference, Sandusky, OH