Over time, from one second to the next, human behavior constantly changes, contributing to the fact that human behavior, consequently human cognition, constitutes a dynamic process. (Thelen and Smith, 1994). Communication, also a continuous interactive process, serves as the overtime interaction between the human motivated information processing system and the communication message. (Geiger and Reeves, 1993; Lang, 2000; Rafaeli, 1988)
Media multitasking indicates a user will simultaneously experience exposure to content from various media. As an individual possesses only a limited number of cognitive resources, he/she will not be able to process information at the same level of efficiency as media single use. As a result, the continuing, shifting attention results in less effective retrieval of information, as well as, experiencing challenges retrieving, encoding and storing information.
Statement of Problem
Despite contradictory indications from communication and cognitive psychology, younger adults' fill their lives with multitasking around media, as well as, numerous other activities. Some young media users, in fact, prefer media multitasking over completing single tasks and a number reportedly believe that when they toggle among tasks, they save time and become more efficient and productive. No study conducted to date, however, to this researcher's knowledge, addresses the problem regarding preference for media multitasking and the perceived effectiveness of such performance. Results of this proposed study, for the first time, will provide valuable insights in this area, as well as, establish a "starting line" for further research. This proposed study aims to utilize the cognitive psychology theory, along with the limited capacity theory to explore the information processing mechanism of multitasking behaviors and examine the effectiveness of these two theories as this researcher contends that rapid advances in digital technology and increased media multitasking and its impact on communication need to be further examined. Complex and interconnected multimedia style and convergence via simultaneous media use creates a new style of communication and a new form of expression requiring amplified levels of understanding. Fragmented media environment in which forms of media vie for people's attention is integrated into people's lives as they multitask, taking in several media streams at the same time. Media use experience needs to be studied as an integration of simultaneous streams, synergized by attention.
One is not exposed to media, but attends to it with a shifting span of attention and focus. Real nonlinear and selective multitasking perceptions are based on significance within the foreground-background attention and scheme of experience. The influence a multiple media environment may exert on information processing and communication clearly depends upon the degree of attention the user invests in it, as well as the context in which it is used. Under multitasking conditions, the influence of multiple media environment on communication and task performance is more difficult to measure than the amount of time a device is in use. Even though they may be critical to understanding how the multiple media environment's powerful influence actually affects people, questions of attention, activities occuring in the vicinity of the media user, and new roles media multitasking may play in people's lives have not yet been broadly studied by communication researchers. An increasing consensus exists regarding an urgent need to develop approaches to measurement which more adequately captures media use in this new era of digital technology.
On a practical level, the field lacks baseline information relating numerous fundamental multitasking processes that may include information retrieval patterns, attention, memory, and ways media multitasking may affect human communication. Therefore, the goal of this proposed study is to ignite the exploration of the effect of multiple media use on task performance and communication by comparing differences between self and partner impressions on both media multitasking performance and communication experiences under media multitasking conditions.
Based on communication and cognitive psychology studies, this researcher projects that in contrast to the common preference for multitasking among younger generation while using media, research will reveal a negative correlation exists between performance and the multitasking status.
In another words, the more tasks an individual simultaneously attempts or engages in, the worse his/her performance will be.
In addition to preference for media multitasking, a person's personality, experience with multitasking, communication style, as well as, relations with the communication partner may also contribute to the influence to the task performance's effectiveness, Consequently, this study's designed proposes to:
Test the deterioration of task performance under multitasking conditions,
Compare self-perceived multitasking efficiency with receiver's evaluation and perception.
Search for potential connections between multitasking performance and factors such as personality trait, self-perceived attributes, multitasking preference, and multitasking experiences.
Compare perceived communication task performance under concentrated and distracted conditions.
Search for indicators for multitasking performance.
As various studies in different age groups reveal multitasking constitutes routine behavior for media users across the U.S., based on several theories examined in the proposed study's literature review section, this researcher proposes the following two hypotheses for this current study:
H1: When an individual multitasks online, then his/her performance under media multitasking condition will prove to be less effective compared to single task condition.
When an individual invests more attention to one task, then he/she obtains better performance evaluations.
Research questions contributing to determining the validity of this study's two hypotheses include, but envelop a myriad of other queries:
Does simultaneous multitask processing contribute to an individual being more productive?
Does multitasking, contrary to a common, contemporary contention, adversely affect an individual's productivity?
What impact does online multitasking exert upon an individual and his/her productivity?
This study's pre-experiment evaluation of potential influential factors includes:
Prior to implementing the experiment for this study, prospective participants will be asked to answer a short questionnaire to relate individual personality traits, along with their media use and multitasking preferences.
Potential participants will also be asked about their familiarity to their partner (to be assigned during the study), as well as, their mood and interest in the study.
At the beginning of the experiment, after potential study participants complete the pre-experiment evaluation revealing potential influential factors, two participants will be randomly assigned as partners. One will designated as the primary subject, with the other participant, noted to be the partner. The primary or principal subject will be assigned two specific tasks to complete by the end of the session, scheduled for a particular time span. The two specific tasks include:
Develop an independent travel plan to Indonesia, and Solve a problem about allocation of pandemic flu vaccine with the partner through online communication.
Researchers will randomly inform the principal subject that one of the two assigned tasks constitutes his/her primary task. he/she is instructed that he/she should pay more attention to his/her primary task, yet complete the secondary task as well, within the experiment's designated time constraints.
The two students in each group will work in different rooms to ensure they cannot see each other during the experiment. During this time, the administrator, presenting him/herself as a travel agent, will interrupt the principal subject through online audio or text communications at 10 minute intervals. During the experiment, however, the partner of the duo team will only work on the vaccine distribution task. Neither the principal participant nor the partner will know they are simultaneously working on two different tasks in another room.
The subject and partner may freely communicate with each other throughout the experiment through online text messaging, with the limitation that the subject cannot tell his/her partner that other than the vaccine task, he/she is also working on another task) the subject and partner may introduce him/herself to the other individual and find out if he/she knows his/her partner.
Post-Experiment Performance Evaluations
Following the experiment's conclusion, each participant will complete a short evaluation form. The subject will be asked to evaluate how well he/she thinks he/she performed during the experiment and asked to relate the general impression of his/her partner during the experiment. The partner will judge the performance of his/her partner, as he/she also critiques perceptions of him/herself during the experiment. Ultimately, both parties will be asked about their interests relating to the experiment and whether they are familiar with their partner.
This researcher plans to recruit students from the undergraduate communication classes of ***name of place (PI) as participants for this study. In exchange for their time and efforts, participants will receive extra credit hours. Ages of participants will be limited to individuals 18 to 25 years old to ensure they belong to the Generation Y age group.
Media use and multitasking preference: General media use pattern and preference for media multitasking will be solicited, using close-nded questions designed by PI and co-investigator.
Personality: This researcher plan to administer the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQR-a) (Francis, Brown, & Philipchalk, 1992) to determine participants' positions on the extraversion-introversion dimension.
Mood and familiarity: Using close-ended questions with 5 point scales, this researcher plans to…