Information processing on smartphones in public versus private

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.

Ohme, J., Searles, K. and De Vresse, C. (2022). Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 27. Full article here.