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Media multitasking, cognition, and behavior
PhD ceremony:Mr W. (Wisnu) Wiradhany
When:April 18, 2019
Supervisor:prof. dr. R. (Ritske) de Jong
Co-supervisor:dr. M.R. (Mark) Nieuwenstein
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences

In our current media-saturated environment, our ability to interleave between one stream of information and another, or media multitasking, is highly valuable. At the same time, however, studies have suggested that media multitasking might lead people to become more vulnerable toward distraction. This thesis presents a collection of studies which aimed to answer three questions: What constitutes the media multitasking behavior, is media multitasking associated with increased distractibility, and to what extent does the presence of media devices influence our ability to process information? Respectively, we found that media multitasking behavior revolves around a small set of prominent media combinations involving Texting, Browsing, Listening to music, and Accessing social media. We found no association between media multitasking and distractibility as measured in task performance, yet we did find weak associations between media multitasking and self-report measures of distractibility. Lastly, we found a small reduction in task performance under the presence of media devices, in particular the participant’s own mobile phone, even when there was no interaction with this device. These findings are discussed in light of the paradoxical nature of media multitasking: People are likely to be aware of the costs of media multitasking, but they may continue to do so to maintain a balance between exploitation (i.e., ensuring optimal task performance) and exploration (i.e., switching from one task to another) behaviors. Accordingly, given the limited evidence on the association between media multitasking and increased distractibility and considering the paradoxical nature of the behavior, future studies might be interested to evaluate the benefits of media multitasking in addition to its potential costs.