Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Barber, Larissa K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology




The modern workplace has become dependent on technology use for day-to-day activities, with employees often engaging in electronic multitasking behaviors. Yet, little research has systematically explored how employees view these behaviors. The current set of studies investigated the influence of contextual and individual difference factors on observers' social judgments of electronic multitasking (i.e., rudeness, agency, and communalism) during work meetings using vignettes. Using a between-subjects experimental design, study 1 (N = 465), found no significant differences in social judgments based on the type of task switching behaviors (sequential vs. concurrent). Study 2 (N = 477) further explored how the relevance of the multitasking to the primary task affects these judgments (irrelevant vs. relevant secondary task) using a between-subjects experimental design. Relevant multitasking was evaluated as less rude, more agentic, and more communal than irrelevant multitasking. Individual differences were also examined in both studies (i.e., polychronicity and trait anger), with both studies showing those high in polychronicity rated multitasking as less rude, more agentic, and more communal. However, results for trait anger were mixed across studies. Finally, a third within-subjects exploratory study was conducted (N = 71) to differentiate how the same individual rates each of the multitasking behaviors based on type of task switching behaviors (sequential vs. concurrent) and relevance (irrelevant vs. relevant secondary task). Expected differences emerged where participants evaluated relevant multitasking and concurrent multitasking as less rude, more agentic, and more communal than irrelevant multitasking and sequential multitasking, respectively. The results of these studies could be used to prevent negative social judgments of electronic multitasking behavior in an organization, leading to more productive meetings and better relationships among coworkers. This is important because such social judgments influence job satisfaction and employee well-being.


Advisors: Larissa K. Barber.||Committee members: James Burton; Alecia Santuzzi.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


117 pages




Northern Illinois University

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