Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
ResearchBernoulli InstituteDepartmentsEvents

PhD Ceremony I. (Ioanna) Katidioti: Understanding and managing interruptions, How to avoid watching cat videos all day long

24 June 2016

Date: 24-06-2016
Time: 12:45
Location: Academiegebouw RUG
PhD Ceremony: Mw. I. Katidioti
Promotor: prof. dr. N.A. (Niels) Taatgen
Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

There are constant interruptions that keep interfering with our workday and slow us down. Half of these interruptions are our own fault: emails, social media, coffee breaks… In my thesis, I tried to understand and manage interruptions, with the hope of uncovering information that could reduce their disruptive effect.
First, I found that when the cognitive resources (such as vision, language processing, hearing etc.) for an interruption are free, people will be distracted or self-interrupt. While performing a task, people faced a slow browser and started chatting to stay occupied. However, they ended up being slower in the main task. In another study, the fewer visual resources a task required, the more people got distracted by a cat video playing in the background. Surprisingly, the difficulty level of the task did not affect how distracted they were, the availability of visual resources was the disruptive factor.
Second, I discovered that being externally interrupted (e.g. by an app that decides when you will check your emails) is less disruptive than self-interrupting. The decision to self-interrupt takes time, which was also reflected in the size of our pupil, a well-known measure of cognitive activity. Finally, I constructed an interruption management system that interrupted people on optimal moments, which were decided by the changes in their pupil dilation.


Last modified:31 May 2018 4.35 p.m.

More news

  • 13 August 2019

    Eat, sleep, recycle

    The 51st edition of KEI week is devoted to the theme of sustainability. On Monday 12 August, around 6,000 KEI participants and KEI leaders were handed cloth bags instead of plastic ones and a KEI wristband with a chip enabling digital payments. A vegetarian...

  • 12 August 2019

    Cold winters not caused by Arctic climate change

    Recent studies into the relationship between decreases in sea ice in the Arctic and ice-cold winters in the mid-latitudes, like the Polar Vortex cold waves in North America, seem to suggest that such a connection does indeed exist. However, the mechanisms...

  • 30 July 2019

    The University of Noorderzon

    Thursday 15 August marks the start of the 10-day Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival, held in our beautiful Noorderplantsoen park. Young and old will return home from the festivities slightly smarter than they were before, thanks to the ‘University...