Debunking the Myths of Pair-Programming

Pair-programming Myths

  1. Pair-programming is exhausting/not worth the effort.
  2. Pair-programming is best for ramping up new developers.
  3. Pair-programming slows me down from what I need to do.
  4. Pair-programming is okay for some bugs, but not others.
  5. Pair-programming is not for me.

Pair-programming Realities

  1. Pair-programming is an acquired social-skill that takes practice for others to learn to work with people.
  2. Pair-programming significantly shortens the time it takes to work on a problem if done right.
  3. Pair-programming is beneficial for all levels/experiences.
  4. Pair-programming creates better cohesion for your codebase and encourages a transfer in practices and knowledge amongst engineers.

What is Good Pair-programming?

What Pair-programming is Not

The Mechanisms of Successful Pair-Programming

1. The Rubber Plant Effect

Is language necessary for human spatial reorientation?
  1. When we hear the right question, our brains make the necessary information available and the language module can then perform rudimentary inference and draw obvious conclusions.
  2. Even as an expert, questions are often asked in such a way that you’re forced to deconstruct assumptions already accepted and in the process, a deeper understanding is gained.

2. Pair-programmers Notice More Details

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 2002.


Sources Cited:

  • Wray, Stuart. “How Pair Programming Really Works.”, IEEE Computer Society, 2010,
  • Eileen Fordham, Halley Freger, Amanda Hinchman-Dominguez, Alexander Mitchell, Daniel Rebelsky, Victoria Tsou, Earnest Wheeler, Zoe Wolter, and Samuel A. Rebelsky. 2015. MIST, The Mathematical Image Synthesis Toolkit. In Proceedings of the 46th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE ‘15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 599–599. DOI:
  • Wade, K.A., Garry, M., Don Read, J. et al. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2002) 9: 597.
  • Hermer-Vazquez, L et al. “Sources of flexibility in human cognition: dual-task studies of space and language.” Cognitive psychology 39 1 (1999): 3–36.
  • Choi, Kyungsub. (2014). A comparative analysis of different gender pair combinations in pair programming. Behaviour & Information Technology. 34. 1–13. 10.1080/0144929X.




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