Turns out, people who indulge in media multitasking are more likely to use irrelevant information from their environment when forming impressions of people they don't know.
Researchers have found that participants who often use several different media devices, such as a tablet, smartphone, or TV, at the same, are more likely to attribute low conscientiousness to an unknown person.
Dr. Richard Lopez, the corresponding author of the study said, "The results suggest that high media multitaskers may, unknowingly, include irrelevant information from their environment, when they form impressions of others, rather than potentially more relevant information provided by the other person's environment." Read | Why getting proper education is important? Media multitasking may thus characterise individuals who are more likely to be influenced by incidental environmental cues, which may impact subsequent perception and judgments of core personality traits, such as conscientiousness, in others.
As a part of the study, the authors randomly assigned 96 undergraduate students to watch a video clip showing an individual being interviewed in their dorm room. The set-up was based on previous research which showed that environmental cues in a living space provide information (relevant cues) by which the person who lives there is evaluated by others.
The students who participated in the test were directed to either a neat or messy room to watch the video. The students were then asked to rate the conscientiousness of the interviewee. Regular media multitasking was assessed via a questionnaire provided after the test. Read | Do career hot streaks occur in creative professions? Lopez also said,"This study represents an important first step in finding links between media multitasking and how people form impressions of others." The full findings appeared in the journal- BMC Psychology.