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Media Multitasking and Executive Functioning in Young Adults

Seddon, A (2019) Media Multitasking and Executive Functioning in Young Adults. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis was to determine the relationships between young adults executive functioning and media multitasking. This was addressed through the systematic exploration of executive functioning utilising behavioural performance tasks, informed by Diamond’s (2013) executive function framework that details three functions; inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility, in relation to media multitasking. In fulfilling this aim, an initial investigation was conducted which assessed self-reported frequency of media multitasking (utilising the Media Multitasking Index by Ophir, Nass & Wagner, 2009, including the full continuum of scores) in relation to performance on executive function tasks assessing inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility. No association between aspects of young adults executive functioning and self-reported frequency of media multitasking was found. Following this, the thesis continued with the systematic exploration of inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility in relation to media multitasking, progressing with the inclusion of a novel assessment of media multitasking ability. Within this second study, media multitasking was explored using objective measures, with participants completing a media multitasking situation. This type of media multitasking assessment has not previously been used in conjunction with performance on a full battery of executive function tasks. The study demonstrated an association between young adults’ cognitive flexibility and their ability to media multitask, in terms of recall of information from a media multitasking situation. It also reflected real world implications of media multitasking in terms of including a novel manipulation of media multitasking within a single device or between multiple devices. Lastly, the final empirical study explored the proximal effects of media multitasking on executive functioning in young adults, for which none were found. In addition to the main aim, a concern of the thesis was to explore the relationship between trait mood and media multitasking. In this regard, self-reported media multitasking was associated with trait anxiety, with higher levels of anxiety associated with more frequent media multitasking in young adults. Other aspects of mood were also assessed throughout the two latter empirical studies, which highlighted a possible fatiguing effect of media engagement (inclusive of media multitasking) on mood. This thesis found no evidence that young adults’ self-reported frequency of media multitasking is associated with their executive functioning. However, there is evidence of the involvement of cognitive flexibility in young adults’ ability to media multitask, when assessing the recall of information from a session of media multitasking. Furthermore, media multitasking between multiple devices is no more detrimental than media multitasking within a single device in terms of the recall of information from a media multitasking situation. Additionally, media engagement (inclusive of media multitasking) does not proximally affect executive function performance although it may fatigue mood.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Media multitasking; Executive Functioning
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Date Deposited: 07 May 2019 10:08
Last Modified: 07 May 2019 10:09
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00010635
Supervisors: Law, A, Adams, AM and Simmons, F
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10635

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