Changing counterproductive beliefs about attention, memory, and multitasking: Impacts of a brief, fully online module

Michelle D. Miller, John J. Doherty, Nicholas M. Butler, Wade G. Coull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ubiquitous mobile technology is part of contemporary life, bringing with it the potential for distraction and reduction in performance associated with multitasking. The predisposition toward dysfunctional multitasking may be shaped in part by beliefs that individuals hold about memory and attention. The issue is particularly pressing for college students, given established links between distraction, multitasking, and learning. This project assessed the impact of an online learning module on beliefs about attention, memory, and learning in college students. It also contrasted these beliefs in a college and non-college community sample. Significant reductions in counterproductive beliefs were associated with completing the module; counterproductive beliefs were also no more prevalent in the college vs. the non-college sample. Our findings suggest that brief online modules are a practical way to address counterproductive beliefs related to multitasking with technology, and add to the literature on metacognition, attention, and multitasking in college and non-college populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-723
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020



  • attention
  • memory
  • multitasking
  • online learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this