Information processing on smartphones in public versus private

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2022
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Ohme, Jakob
Searles, Kathleen
de Vreese, Claes H
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People increasingly turn to news on mobile devices, often while out and about, attending to daily tasks. Yet, we know little about whether attention to and learning from information on a mobile differs by the setting of use. This study builds on Multiple Resource Theory (Wickens, 1984) and the Resource Competition Framework (Oulasvirta et al., 2005) to compare visual attention to a dynamic newsfeed, varying only the setting: private or public. We use mobile eye-tracking to evaluate the effects of setting on attention and assess correspondent learning differences after exposure to the feed, which allows us to uncover a relationship between attention and learning. Findings indicate higher visual attention to mobile newsfeed posts in public, relative to a private setting. Moreover, scrolling through news on a smartphone in public attenuates some knowledge gain but is beneficial for other learning outcomes.

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Ohme, J., Searles, K., & de Vreese, C. H. (2022). Information processing on smartphones in public versus private. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 27(6), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmac022