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Are programmers ordinary people? The psychological portrait of a programmer

28.07.2016 Alice Cohen
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Are programmers ordinary people? The psychological portrait of a programmer

Society has seemed to form a definite stereotype about programmers, or coders. We all have heard many jokes about the “nerds” fluent in computer technologies. Programmers are considered to be in a world of their own – almost aliens. So what really is the difference between them and “ordinary” people? I have observed that programmers:

1. Tend to have a high level of concentration.

It often increases irritability, when somebody is interrupting their programming process, which is sometimes perceived as “dippy at work”.


2. Have a lot of integrity.

Their profession helps to develop this quality. It is impossible to fool the machine: you get what you code.

3. Are eternal optimists!

It would drive you crazy to debug programs without optimism. Pessimists would just throw in the towel too early.

4. Are extremely persistent people.

Like optimism, persistence is essential to their task.

5. Have a very analytical mind.

From high-level architecture to the details of a subroutine, they must do a lot of analysis, thinking through what program needs to do and how to do it best.

6. Are highly motivated from within.

They are passionate about creating a great code and an elegant solution. People with other external motivations (career, money, praise, etc.) tend to leave, programming faster or slower.

7. Have high intelligence.

They are thinking innovatively, and most importantly that they have an ability to learn quickly.

8. Are usually young and ambitious.


Very often, programmers confirm the stereotype by their penchant for freestyle dress, being late night “owls” and living on the Internet. Programmers might not agree with the common view that they feel superior to the “mundanes,” are video game addicts, can relate or communicate well to the opposite gender and have difficulty understanding the feelings of others and expressing their own, but many still see them that way.

Are programmers “ordinary” people?  I am reminded of a quote from Microsoft co-founder and former CEO, Steve Ballmer – “The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense, it is all about potential.” They may not be ordinary, but I think we all can appreciate the way they seek to realize their potential!

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