Values-oriented defect fixing for mobile software

We are working on building a new taxonomy for mobile app human values, characterising a mobile app model with human values for its target end-users, techniques for detecting values-violating defects in the target mobile apps, and providing recommendations and fixes for these values-violating defects.

A First Look at Human Values-Violation in App Reviews

Ubiquitous technologies such as mobile software applications (mobile apps) have a tremendous influence on the evolution of the social, cultural, economic, and political facets of life in society. Mobile apps fulfil many practical purposes for users including entertainment, transportation, financial management, etc. Given the ubiquity of mobile apps in the lives of individuals and the consequent effect of these technologies on society, it is essential to consider the relationship between human values and the development and deployment of mobile apps. The many negative consequences of violating human values such as privacy, fairness or social justice by technology have been documented in recent times. If we can detect these violations in a timely manner, developers can look to better address them. To understand the violation of human values in a range of common mobile apps, we analysed 22,119 app reviews from Google Play Store using natural language processing techniques. We base our values violation detection approach on a widely accepted model of human values; the Schwartz theory of basic human values. The results of our analysis show that 26.5% of the reviews contained text indicating user perceived violations of human values. We found that benevolence and self-direction were the most violated value categories, and conformity and tradition were the least violated categories. Our results also highlight the need for a proactive approach to the alignment of values amongst stakeholders and the use of app reviews as a valuable additional source for mining values requirements.

Method

To understand the violation of human values in mobile apps, we leverage information contained in users’ apps reviews. App reviews are a valuable source of information, ideas, and requests from users, and we conjecture that app reviews are capable of reflecting human values in mobile apps. Manually analysing feedback from users is a time-consuming process since popular apps typically receive thousands of reviews daily. As a result, automated techniques have been proposed in the literature to reduce the efforts needed for analysing reviews. In this work, we analysed a total of 22,119 app reviews from 12 apps from Google Play Store to identify violations of human values in mobile apps using natural language processing (NLP) techniques. Our approach combines sentiment analysis, app feature extraction, and a human values dictionary of keywords.

Results

Our approach achieves a recall of 0.83, precision of 0.69, and F-measure of 0.75. We base our values detection approach on a widely accepted model of human values, the Schwartz theory of basic human values. The result of our analysis shows that 26.5% of the reviews contained violations of human values. Benevolence and self-direction were the most violated value categories, while conformity and tradition were the least violated value categories. The results also relate certain app features to specific values violation. Furthermore, this study is presented as one of the early steps in understanding the nexus between human values and mobile apps.

Summary

The implications of our results recognise the need for a proactive approach to the elicitation and alignment of human values amongst stakeholders involved in the development of mobile apps to prevent conflicts and values violation. Moreover, app reviews can also serve as a valuable source for mining end user human values requirements to support the evolution of mobile apps via updates and features. We advocate a move towards a critical technical practice in mobile software engineering of employing critical methods and sociocultural reflection of the roles and effects of mobile apps in our society.

Publication

  • Obie, H., Hussein, W., Xia, X., Grundy, J.C., Li, L., Turhan, B., Whittle, J. and Shahin, M., A First Look at Human Values-Violation in  App Reviews, 2021 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Software Engineering, online 23-29 May 2021, IEEE -- Final publication available atDOI Author pre-published version PDF

Tool

Detecting values-violating defects in source code (mobile apps)


Project Lead

  • Dr Humphrey Obie

Investigators

  • Prof. John Grundy, Dr Jenny McIntosh, Dr Waqar Hussain, A/Prof. Burak Turhan, Dr Li Li, Prof. Jon Whittle