The Occurrence of Attention Residue after Instant Messaging during Sequential- and Multitasking
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Interruptions in the form of instant messaging and multitasking are being normalized in the work environment, even though existing literature suggests that both negatively affect productivity. This might be due to attention residue: The persistent and intruding thoughts about the interruption during the next task. To test whether attention residue plays a role in the effects of instant messaging on productivity, the current study investigates whether instant messaging in a sequential- and multitask setting affects the occurrence of attention residue and tests for a moderating effect of task complexity. This is investigated by testing 91 participants’ productivity, using a Lexical Decision Task (LDT), after they have been instant messaging. In this online study, half of the participants received sequential task- and half multitask-instructions for the LDT. The current study did not find that instant messaging in a sequential- and multitask setting affected the occurrence of attention residue during the second task and did not find a moderating effect of task complexity either. However, these findings are in sharp contrast to the existing literature and Threaded Cognition Model and combined with the limitations of an unsuccessful manipulation and a non-switchingmultitask- group, make it difficult to interpret and generalize these findings.