The Freedom to Lose Control: Self-Regulation Difference in Heavy versus Light Media Multitaskers

Year of publication: 2016
Author(s): Beuckels, E.; Kazakova, S.; Cauberghe, V.; De Pelsmacker, P & Hudders, L.
Appeared in: European Marketing Conference (EMAC)


Heavy media multitaskers (HMMs)perform worse on tasks that require self-regulation compared to light media multitaskers (LMMs). This paper investigates whether these individual differences stem from differences in the ability or motivation to self-regulate by manipulating participants’ autonomy of attention allocation. In Study I (n=88) media multitasking behavior negatively predicted Stroop task performance, confirming the link between media multitasking frequency and behavioral response inhibition. In Study II (n=85), HMMs were more inhibited than LMMs after multitasking freely but not after their attention was guided externally by the experimenter. These findings suggest that motivation rather than ability to self-regulate drives the observed performance differences.

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