Multiple Selves and Multitasking: A Dynamic Longitudinal Study

Shan Xu, Zheng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study integrates the theory of multiple selves within the theoretical framework of dynamic motivational activation (DMA) to identify the dynamic patterns of multiple self-concepts (i.e., the potential self, the actual self) in multitasking (e.g., primary and secondary activities) in daily life. A three-week experience sampling study was conducted on college students. Dynamic panel modeling results suggest that the self-concepts are both sustaining and shifting in daily activities and media activities. Specifically, the potential and actual selves sustained themselves over time in primary and secondary activities, but they also shifted from one to another to achieve a balance in primary activities over time. Interestingly, secondary activities were not driven by the alternative self-concept in primary activities, but instead, by the emotional experiences of primary activities. Furthermore, the findings identified that multitasking to fulfill their actual self did not motivate people to re-prioritize their potential self later.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • experience sampling
  • multiple selves
  • multitasking
  • reinforcement
  • self

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