Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Multi-tasking motivation

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Multi-tasking motivation:
What motivates multi-tasking?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Media multitasking[Provide more detail]

Motivations are internal processes that give behaviour energy, direction and consistency (Reeve, 2015). Multitasking involves undertaking several tasks at the same time (Sanbonmatsu, Strayer, Medeiros-Ward & Watson, 2013). Multitasking can be performed on social media sites such as Facebook which motivates multitasking as it becomes habitual and individuals desire socialisation (Kononova & Yuan, 2017). Listening to music while working is a common type of multitasking which is motivated by the feeling of relaxation and enjoyment (Kononova & Yuan, 2017). Music provides entertainment and could possibly cause the individual to work more efficiently and could become a study habit (Kononova & Yuan, 2017). Lim & Shim (2016) outline in their study that common motivators of multitasking on smartphones include efficiency, positive affect and personality traits such as need for cognition and sensation seeking. Sanbonmatsu, Strayer, Medeiros-Ward & Watson (2013) explain that the most popular multi-taskers are one's that are not good at it[vague][explain?].

Motivation to multitask[edit | edit source]

Motivations are internal processes that provide behaviour with its energy, direction and persistence (Reeve, 2015). [Provide more detail]

Calderwood, Ackerman & Conklin (2014) conducted a study using data from 58 participants. The participants were grouped into three conditions, POV Camera, eye tracker and four surveillance cameras. Calderwood et al. (2014) hypothesised that mood and emotion will reduce throughout the study period and that higher levels of subjective fatigue will be related to more consistent and a longer duration of multi-tasking. Negative and positive affect relate to negative and positive moods[grammar?].

Calderwood, et al. (2014) second hypothesis was that negative affect (NA) would correlate positively with multi-tasking for a longer period of time and that postive[spelling?] affect (PA) would be associated with less regular and a shorter duration of multi-tasking. Task motivation positively linked to self efficacy and stronger PA was associated with lower levels of fatigue and stronger motivation. NA associated with higher levels of fatigue and less motivation (Calderwood, et al., 2014).

Carrier, Rosen, Cheever & Lim (2015) suggest that deadlines can motivate multitasking behaviour[Provide more detail]. They also found that individuals may send text messages out of boredom and concern for others.

Multi-Tasking[edit | edit source]

Engaging in multiple tasks simultaneously aimed at achieving several goals (Sanbonmatsu, et al., 2013)[grammar?][Provide more detail].

Types of multi-tasking[edit | edit source]

  • Simultaneous multitasking: Performing two tasks simultaneously, e.g. listening to music whilst studying (Conard & Marsh, 2014).
  • Sequential multitasking: Jumping back and forth between a primary task to a secondary interruption, e.g. texting whilst completing an assignment (Conard & Marsh, 2014).

Effect of interruptions on learning:[edit | edit source]

Conard & Marsh (2014) analysed the effects of interruptions and level of interest on learning. They investigated whether interest levels could decrease the impact level of interruptions in a simultaneous multitasking circumstance. Interest is divided into two groups: Individual interest and situational interest. Situational interest refers to a specific situation and is strongly correlated with intrinsic motivation to learn, academic achievement, the ability to cope and long-term witholding of information (Conard & Marsh, 2014).

The study conducted by Conard and Marsh (2014) involved participants watching a video consisting of information needed for a test they would complete afterwards. Throughout the showing the participants received text messages. Half of those messages were timed with importamt[spelling?] information on the video. Results showed that interruptions affect the ability to learn and situational interest correlated with motivation to learn, retention of information and academic achievement (Conard & Marsh, 2014).

Single channel theories on working memory and attention suggest that multitasking can cause rivalry for central attentional resources which can decrease the ability to recall and provide accurate information and reduce an idividuals[spelling?] performance time (Conard & Marsh, 2014). Multiple component theory of working memory and attention propose that people process information through numerous cognitive components, each component with their own functions and workload retention (Conard & Marsh, 2014). Zhang (2015) carried out a study around multitasking on a laptop and how that affects academic performance. Results revealed a negative correlation between laptop multitasking and academic achievement (Zhang, 2015).

Szumowska & Kossowska (2017) conducted two studies investigating the role of "motivational rigidity", for example, need for cognitive closure (NFC), in handling irrational task discontinuance and the ability to multitask. The hypotheses were supported in that NFC does improve multitasking performance due to concentrating more on a main goal of a task and that NFC was associated with less engagement in tasks that are not related to the main goal, therefore, causing stronger multitasking performance (Szumowska & Kossowska, 2017). In an earlier article, Szumowska and Kossowska (2016) explain that an individual will perform poorly if they struggle to shift between tasks.

Multi-tasking on social media[edit | edit source]

Kononova and Yuan (2017) aimed to find out what motivates college students to engage in forms of social media. This current study involved 524 participants and investigated 8 multi-tasking motivations with three kinds of media, Facebook, text messaging and music. Researchers hypothesised that motivations would differ depending on the media site. They found that multitasking makes individuals feel more in control and efficient with work and provided a higher level of enjoyment and relation with others (Bardhi, Rohm & Sultan, 2010, as cited in Kononova & Yuan, 2017). Motivations varied between the different kinds of media and multitasking on all mediums was motivated by various cognitive needs.

Kononova and Yuan (2017) divided these motivations into five categories: cognitive (need for information and efficiency), hedonic (enjoyment and relaxation), diversion (escape), social connection (companionship) and habitual (passing time). They observed that habit is the strongest motivator of multitasking (Kononova & Yuan, 2017). Social connection related to Facebook use and text messaging. Cognitive needs motivated Facebook and text messaging. Music was motivated by need for efficiency, enjoyment, relaxation, entertainment and habit, whilst Facebook and text messaging were motivated by escape, need to pass time, socialisation and habit.

Media multitasking[edit | edit source]

Media multitasking is defined as consuming two or more commercial media content concurrently. Bardhi, Rohm & Sultan (2010) conducted a study which aimed to establish the costs and benefits of media multitasking, identify coping strategies and observe the impact of media multitasking on motivation, ability and opportunity (MAO).

Figure 2. Multitasking [Provide more detail]

Costs[edit | edit source]

  • inefficiency
  • chaos
  • disengagement
  • enslavement (Bardhi, et al., 2010).

Media multitasking creates a chaotic and inefficient media situation which decreases consumers opportunity and ability to process advertising content (Bardhi, et al., 2010). Media multitsking[spelling?] can cause cognitive deterioration (Wang & Tchernev, 2012).

Benefits[edit | edit source]

  • control
  • efficiency
  • engagement
  • assimilation (Bardhi, et al., 2010).

Bardhi, et al. (2010) observed that media multitasking offers greater opportunities to target users through various screens and could possibly impact individuals MAO, positively, as it strengthens one's sense of control and efficiency and improves users engagement with assimilation through media.

Coping strategies[edit | edit source]

Needs and gratifications[edit | edit source]

Wang & Tchernev (2012) conducted a study observing needs and gratifications of multitasking. Needs are defined as the combination of psychological mentalities, sociological elements and environmental circumstances (Katz et al. 1973, as cited in, Wang & Tchernev, 2012) that motivate media exposure. They were placed into four categories, emotional, cognitive, habitual and social. Gratifications are the perceived achievement of the needs through media use (Wang & Tchernev, 2012).

Wang & Tchernev (2012) found that cognitive and habitual needs impact multitasking but not social and emotional needs. Emotional gratifications increase as emotional needs heighten (Wang & Tchernev, 2012).  When emotional needs are low, a higher degree of multitasking heightens gratification, however, when emotional needs are stronger, gratifications decrease; media multitasking also increases gratification which causes needs to decrease, for example: an individual multitasking by watching television whilst studying will feel satisfied from watching the TV as it makes the study session more enjoyable (Wang & Tchernev, 2012). 

Wang & Tchernev (2012) explained that watching television whilst working on school assessment tasks affects one's task performance on reading appprehension[spelling?] and memory tasks. They also explained that multitasking affects an individuals[grammar?] ability to process and substantiate information.

Multitasking on smartphones[edit | edit source]

Lim & Shim (2016) aimed to investigate the psychological determinants of smartphone multitasking. Smartphone multitasking was split into three categories: nonmedia multitasking, cross-media multitasking and single-device multitasking. Nonmedia multitasking involves using a smartphone whilst participating in nonmedia activities, for example household chores. An example of cross-media multitasking is watching the television whilst using your smartphone. Single-device multitasking involved using multiple smartphone functions at the same time.

Lim & Shim (2016) found that efficiency, utility and positive affect are primary motivators. Efficiency significantly predicted both non-media multi-tasking and single-device multi-tasking. Positive affect significantly predicted single-device multi-tasking, however, they observed that utility did not act as a motivator (Lim & Shim, 2016).

Personality traits[edit | edit source]

  • Personality traits pertinent to all primary motivators include: Need for cognition (NFC) and sensation seeking (SS) (Lim & Shim, 2016).
  • Lim & Shim, (2016) discovered that higher NFC lead individuals to perceive multi-tasking as useful

Who multi-tasks?[edit | edit source]

Sanbonmatsu et al., (2013) analysed the relationship between personality and individual differences in the ability to multitask. Research findings suggest that individuals who frequently multi-task could possibly be people who are the least cognitively qualified to perform multiple tasks efficiently at the same time (Sanbonmatsu, et al. (2013). People who are good at it and expect strong rewards and low cost also perform multitasking abilities (Sanbonmatsu, et al., 2013).

Researchers found that individuals with strong levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking perform better in multitasking behaviour and that individuals who find it difficult to ignore distractions and concentrate on the task at hand are the ones who engage in multitasking (Sanbonmatsu, et al. 2013).

Reissland & Manzey (2016) describe two kinds of multitaskers, individuals who try to process numerous tasks as unrelated to each as possible and those who attempt to complete tasks in an overlapping way.[Provide more detail]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Common motivators of multitasking have been categorised as cognitive, emotional, social and habitual needs which work together with gratifications. Social media and other media platforms are common areas of multitasking performance and we take a look at the costs and benefits of such multitasking. Personality traits, including, need for cognition and sensation seeking are also applicable to multitasking motivation. Research suggests that common multitaskers are individuals who perform poorly at completing multiple tasks simultaneously. Individuals who have a heightened sense of impulsivity and sensation seeking perform strong multitasking behaviour whereas individuals who struggle to concentrate on tasks engage in multitasking frequently.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Bardhi, F., Rohm, A.J., & Sultan, F. (2010). Tuning in and tuning out: Media multitasking among young consumers. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 9, 316-332

Carrier, L.M., Rosen, L.D., Cheever, N.A., & Lim, A.F. (2015). Causes, effects, amd practicalities of everyday multitasking. Developmental Review, 35, 64-78

Calderwood, C., Ackerman, P.L., & Conklin, E.M. (2014) What else do college students "do" while studying? An investigation of multitasking. Computers and Education, 75, 19-29

Conard, M.A., & Marsh, R.F. (2014). Interest level improves learning but does not moderate the effects of interruptions: An experiment using simultaneous multitasking. Learning and Individual Differences, 30, 112-117

Kononova, A.G., & Yuan, S. (2017). Take a break: Examining college students' media multitasking activities and motivations during study - or work-related tasks. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 72, 183-197

Lim, S., & Shim, H. (2016). Who multitasks on smartphones? Smartphone multitaskers' motivations and personality traits. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, 19, 223-227

Reeve, J. (2015). Understanding motivation and emotion (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Reissland, J., & Manzey, D. (2016). Serial or overlapping processing in multitasking as individual preference: Effects of stimulus preview on task switching and concurrent dual-task performance. Acta Psychologica, 168, 27-40

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Strayer, D. L., Medeiros-Ward, N., & Watson, J. M. (2013). Who multi-tasks and why? Multi-tasking ability, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. PloS One, 8, 1-8

Szumowska, E., & Kossowska, M. (2016). Need for closure and multitasking performance: The role of shifting ability. Personality and Individual Differences, 96, 12-17

Szumowska, E., & Kossowska, M. (2017). Motivational rigidity enhances multitasking performance: The role of handling interruptions. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 81-89

Wang, Z., & Tchernev, J.M. (2012). The "Myth" of media multitasking: Reciprocal dynamics of media multitasking, personal needs, and gratifications. Journal of Communication, 62, 493-513

Zhang, W. (2015). Learning variables, in-class laptop multitasking and academic performance: A path analysis. Computers and Education, 81, 82-88

External links[edit | edit source]