Multitasking and Dual Motivational Systems: A Dynamic Longitudinal Study

Shan Xu, Zheng Wang, Kelsey Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study further explores the myth of media multitasking: that is, why people increasingly media multitask despite its known harmful effects on performance. Building on previous research on the emotional gratifications of media multitasking and guided by the dynamic motivational activation (DMA) approach, this study specifies emotional gratifications in terms of positive and negative emotions, as well as their underlying appetitive and aversive motivational changes. Using a dynamic panel analysis of longitudinal experience sampling data collected from 71 adolescents (ages 11-17; 61% girls) over 2 weeks, this study identifies several dynamic reciprocal impacts of media multitasking and the dual motivational systems. As predicted by DMA, media multitasking coactivates both the appetitive and aversive motivational systems, and increases both positive and negative emotions; interestingly, only the appetitive system goes on to determine subsequent media multitasking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-394
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Appetitive
  • Aversive
  • Dynamic Motivational Activation
  • Experience Sampling
  • Multitasking
  • Reinforcing Spirals


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