August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
Individual Differences in Media Multitasking and Inattentional Blindness
Author Affiliations
  • D. Alexander Varakin
    Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Brian Huybers
    Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 550. doi:10.1167/14.10.550
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      D. Alexander Varakin, Brian Huybers; Individual Differences in Media Multitasking and Inattentional Blindness. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):550. doi: 10.1167/14.10.550.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Previous research on media multitasking suggests that individuals who regularly multitask are more susceptible to interference from task irrelevant stimuli than individuals who rarely multitask (Ophir, Nass, & Wagner, 2009, PNAS). This finding is consistent with the idea that frequent multitaskers are more likely to notice task-irrelevant stimuli than infrequent multitaskers. However, past research did not measure awareness of the task-irrelevant stimuli. The present study investigated the relationship between media multitasking and inattentional blindness (IB), which occurs when individuals fail to notice task-irrelevant, unexpected stimuli while performing an attentionally demanding cover task. As in past research, the Media Multitasking Index (MMI; Ophir, Nass, & Wagner, 2009) was used to classify participants (n = 95) as high media multitaskers (more than 1 SD above the sample's mean MMI score, n = 14) or low media multitaskers (less than 1 SD below the sample's mean MMI score, n = 12). In addition, participants in the middle of the MMI distribution were placed into middle-low (between -1 and 0 SDs from mean, n = 41) and middle-high (between 0 and 1 SDs from mean, n = 28) groups. Mack and Rock's (1998) paradigm was used to measure IB. Participants completed four cover task trials that involved making judgments about a cross that was briefly presented in the periphery. On the fifth trial, an unexpected stimulus was presented at fixation at the same time as the cross, and detection of this stimulus was used as a measure of IB. Detection rates were 57% for the high group, 43% for the middle-high group, 41% for the middle-low group, and 50% for the low group. There was no statistical association between MMI group and detection, p > .05. These results suggest that self-reported media multitasking is not strongly related to inattentional blindness.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014


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