Editor's Pick - January 2023



Sensation seeking, media multitasking, and social Facebook use
Gunwoo Yoon (University of Northern Iowa), Brittany R. L. Duff (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Matthew P. Bunker (University of Northern Iowa), 2021, 49(1), e8918



The subject of this research by Yoon, Duff, and Bunker (2021) caught my eye as it describes such a familiar image: someone scrolling on social media while simultaneously watching television or attempting to have a conversation with others. Media multitasking is apparently a relatively new phenomenon, and it sounds very much like a social behavior of our time!

It was interesting to see the authors’ investigation into the underlying factors of social media multitasking. Do particular personality traits lend themselves to this kind of behavior? And in a novel contribution, rather than use a student sample, these authors used a diverse, nationwide convenience sample, giving them a broader perspective of media behaviors. Their sample demographics were not dissimilar to Facebook user demographics, suggesting that their results would represent the general population well.

And what did the research find? Those with a social motivation to use Facebook were more likely to multitask, a correlation the authors predicted because those socially motivated would seek interactions with others, possibly in multiple interactions at a time. Sensation seeking mediated this social motivation; the tendency to seek increased levels of stimulation, novel experience, and interaction with others thus connected with an increased engagement in social media and multitasking, specifically when there was a social motivation involved.

This brief report of new research opens up further questions about how these variables interact. Given that this is a relatively new and underresearched area of study, we are pleased to have published this as a first step of understanding a rather ubiquitous trend in social media usage right now!

Alexandra Cheyne | Managing Editor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal