Multitasking and Feeling Good? Autonomy of Additional Activities Predicts Affect
- 479 Downloads
There is a consensus that multitasking is becoming more frequent in students’ everyday lives. However, few studies investigated the relationship of multitasking and affect, and those that did found contradictory results. The aim of the current study was to disentangle these results by adopting a self-determination theory perspective. In accordance with self-determination theory, we predicted that multitasking is associated with higher positive and lower negative affect than mono-tasking when the additional activity is motivated autonomously, i.e. when the additional activity is done voluntarily. On the other hand, we hypothesised that multitasking is associated with higher negative and lower positive affect than mono-tasking when the additional activity is motivated because of controlled reasons. In an experience sampling study, 51 students completed 1341 questionnaires over the course of 1 week. For each prompt, students specified their current affect, what they were currently doing as a main activity, whether they were engaged in any additional activity (i.e., multitasking), and how autonomously they were motivated to carry out each of their activities. Results showed that students multitasked 41% of the time. In line with self-determination theory, multitasking with an autonomous additional activity in comparison to mono-tasking was associated with higher positive affect, whereas multitasking with a controlled additional activity in comparison to mono-tasking was associated with higher negative affect. To our knowledge, the current study is the first to demonstrate that the relationship of multitasking and affect depends on the level of autonomy of the additional activity.
KeywordsMultitasking Affect Autonomy Self-determination Experience sampling
The study was founded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), Grant Number: 01PB14003A.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Bryk, A. S., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1992). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Advanced quantitative techniques in the social sciences (Vol. 1). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
- Burton, K. D., Lydon, J. E., D’Alessandro, D. U., & Koestner, R. (2006). The differential effects of intrinsic and identified motivation on well-being and performance: Prospective, experimental, and implicit approaches to self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 750–762. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Duncan, L. R., Hall, C. R., Wilson, P. M., & Jenny, O. (2010). Exercise motivation: a cross-sectional analysis examining its relationships with frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-7-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS: And sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (3. ed). Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Retrieved from http://www.uk.sagepub.com/field3e/main.htm.
- Floro, M. S., & Miles, M. (2003). Time use and overlapping activities: Evidence from Australia (Electronic Resource). SPRC discussion papers, Vol. 112. Sydney, NSW: SPRC. Retrieved from http://www.sprc.unsw.edu.au/dp/DP113file.pdf.
- Galluch, P., Long, C., Bratton, T., Gee, M., & Groeber, M. (2009). Losing the battle: Student and instructor perspectives on attention loss in the classroom. In Proceedings of the southern association for information systems conference, Charleston, SC, March 12th–14th, 2009 45, pp. 45–50.Google Scholar
- Geiser, C. (2011). Data analysis using Mplus—A users‘introductio Datenanalyse mit Mplus—Eine anwendungsorientierte Einführung (2., durchges. Aufl). Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag.Google Scholar
- German Psychology Association and the German Professional Association Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie und der Berufsverband Deutscher Psychologinnen und Psychologen e.V. (2004). [Ethical Standards] Ethische Richtlinien. Retrieved from http://www.hw.uni-wuerzburg.de/fileadmin/06020000/download/Ethische_Richtlinien_der_DGPs_und_des_BDP.pdf.
- Götz, T., Frenzel, A. C., & Pekrun, R. (2007). Regulation of Boredom in the Classroom Regulation von Langeweile im Unterricht. Was Schulerinnen und Schuler bei der „Windstille der Seele“(nicht) tun. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 35(4), 312–333.Google Scholar
- Hartmann-Wolff, E. (2014). Not everything at once! Nicht alles gleichzeitig! Focus Magazin. Retrieved from http://www.focus.de/kultur/medien/kultur-nicht-alles-gleichzeitig_id_3709443.html.
- Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
- IBM Corp. (2013). IBM SPSS statistics for windows. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.Google Scholar
- Ironmonger, D. S. (2003). There are only 24 hurs in a day! Solving the problematic of simultaneous time. In The 25th IATUR conference on time use research, Brüssels, Belgium.Google Scholar
- Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Be careful what you wish for: Optimal functioning and the relative attainment of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. In P. Schmuck & M. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Life goals and well-being: Towards a positive psychology of human striving (pp. 116–131). Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber.Google Scholar
- Kraushaar, J., & Novak, D. (2010). Examining the effects of student multitasking with laptops during the lecture. Journal of Information Systems Education, 21(2), 241–251.Google Scholar
- Levy, D. M., Wobbrock, J. O., Kaszniak, A. W., & Ostergren, M. (2012). The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. Graphics Interface.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012). Mplus: Statistical analysis with latent variables; User’s Guide Version 7 (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén.Google Scholar
- Nelson, S. K., Della Porta, M. D., Jacobs Bao, K., Lee, H. C., Choi, I., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2014). ‘It’s up to you’: Experimentally manipulated autonomy support for prosocial behavior improves well-being in two cultures over six weeks. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(5), 463–476. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.983959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pychyl, T. A., Lee, J. M., Thibodeau, R., & Blunt, A. (2001). Five days of emotion: An experience sampling study of undergraduate student procrastination. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15(5), 239–254.Google Scholar
- Reinecke, L., Aufenanger, S., Beutel, M. E., Dreier, M., Quiring, O., Stark, B., et al. (2017). Digital stress over the life span: the effects of communication load and internet multitasking on perceived stress and psychological health impairments in a german probability sample. Media Psychology, 20, 90–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2015.1121832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ren, D., Zhou, H., & Fu, X. (2009). A deeper look at gender difference in multitasking: Gender-specific mechanism of cognitive control. In H. Wang (Ed.), Fifth international conference on natural computation, 2009: ICNC ‘09; Tianjin, China, 14–16 Aug 2009; held jointly with the 6th international conference on fuzzy systems and knowledge discovery (FSKD 2009) (pp. 13–17). Piscataway, NJ: IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/ICNC.2009.542.
- Riediger, M., & Freund, A. M. (2008). Me against myself: Motivational conflicts and emotional development in adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 23(3), 479–494. Retrieved from http://library.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/ft/mr/MR_Me_Against_2008.pdf.
- Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York, London: Guilford Press. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/subhh/detail.action?docID=4773318.
- Salvucci, D. D., & Taatgen, N. A. (2011). The multitasking mind. Retrieved from http://gbv.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=590183.
- Salvucci, D. D., Taatgen, N. A., & Borst, J. P. (2009). Toward a unified theory of the multitasking continuum: From concurrent performance to task switching, interruption, and resumption. In CHI (Ed.), Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1819–1828). New York: ACM Press.Google Scholar
- Schmuck, P., Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic goals: Their structure and relationship to well-being in German and U.S. college students. Social indicators research : An international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement, 50(2), 225–241. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1007084005278.
- Wallis, C. (2006). genM: The multitasking generation. Time Magazine. Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1174696-9,00.html.
- Wang, H. (Ed.) 2009. Fifth international conference on natural computation, 2009: ICNC ‘09; Tianjin, China, 14–16 Aug. 2009; held jointly with the 6th international conference on fuzzy systems and knowledge discovery (FSKD 2009). Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.Google Scholar