Should all testers have OCD?


Vocational Psychology is a field in which when selecting the right job for a person, psychologist’s search for a match between a person’s personality and the job requirements. There are a number of additional factors such as the required skills, abilities, work environment, person’s family conditions and many more.


In the Testing Community it is frequently said that the best testers suffer from OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and that testing is in fact, the adaptive activity that is taking advantage of this phenomena and ‘turning lemons into lemonade’.


OCD prevalence is about 1%-2% of the population, so if indeed this is the case, our testing community must have a much higher percentage

Some of the main characteristics of OCD include:

  • Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches.
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe.
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.


A real match between Testing and OCD?

OCD image

The O-net website is an online tool that assists users selecting the right job for them, and it describes the various elements of pretty much any job title.


When looking at the interest elements that are included for the software testing position we can find:

  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

At a quick glance it seem as if there is indeed some match between software tester job interest elements and OCD characteristic, although there is not a 100% match. So even if you don’t think you fit the OCD definition, you can definitely excel at your job as a software tester 🙂

P.S- I think that even the ones’ among us that don’t suffer from OCD by definition , can relate to this OCD- obsessive coffee disorder. 

OCD-coffee image

  • Guest

    This is an interesting post. I do find some similarities between my fellow testers characteristics and these described OCD

  • Tamsin le Roux

    I also found this post interesting as I believe that I have some level of OCD. I think that depending on the level of OCD that someone has it could either positively or negatively influence the testing process. As you may get cases where a tester has an extreme case of OCD which might be detrimental to a project as this person might compulsively double check their work and waste valuable time. On the positive side though I believe that someone with OCD generally tries to ensure that their work is 100% (ie no defects)

  • rabia

    What an insightful way to look at testing techniques! I consider myself an investigative tester which is why I think maybe a little OCD as well