Media multitasking and implicit learning

Kathleen S. Edwards, Myoungju Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Media multitasking refers to the simultaneous use of different forms of media. Previous research comparing heavy media multitaskers and light media multitaskers suggests that heavy media multitaskers have a broader scope of attention. The present study explored whether these differences in attentional scope would lead to a greater degree of implicit learning for heavy media multitaskers. The study also examined whether media multitasking behaviour is associated with differences in visual working memory, and whether visual working memory differentially affects the ability to process contextual information. In addition to comparing extreme groups (heavy and light media multitaskers) the study included analysis of people who media multitask in moderation (intermediate media multitaskers). Ninety-four participants were divided into groups based on responses to the media use questionnaire, and completed the contextual cueing and n-back tasks. Results indicated that the speed at which implicit learning occurred was slower in heavy media multitaskers relative to both light and intermediate media multitaskers. There was no relationship between working memory performance and media multitasking group, and no relationship between working memory and implicit learning. There was also no evidence for superior performance of intermediate media multitaskers. A deficit in implicit learning observed in heavy media multitaskers is consistent with previous literature, which suggests that heavy media multitaskers perform more poorly than light media multitaskers in attentional tasks due to their wider attentional scope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1535-1549
Number of pages15
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number5
Early online dateMay 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2017


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