Current Issue Summary
Sept 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 3):
Why Do People Choose to Multitask with Media? The Dimensions of Polychronicity as Drivers of Multiple Media Use – A User Typology
Media planners will benefit from this latest research by Helen R. Robinson and Stavros P. Kalafatis (both at Kingston Business School). Experts in polychronicity–, or the extent to which people prefer to work on multiple activities at the same time, the authors have created a typology that identifies three types of multimedia users. Each user category has distinctive patterns. Practitioners can use this tool to increase the accuracy of targeting an otherwise elusive, digital native audience.
Robinson’s and Kalafatis’s Multimedia User Typology (MMU-T) draws from their earlier Polychronicity-Multiple Media Use (P-MMU) scale, helping to answer the question: What drives people to multitask with media? P-MMU, unveiled in 2017, identified nine dimensions of polychronicity: assimilation, comfort, compulsiveness, convenience, effectiveness, gratification, information, multimedia channel preference, and social.
In developing the MMU-T, the authors surveyed 315 digital natives in the U.K., recording the average number of hours per week spent on each of the media. They also measured the frequency with which participants used one medium while at the same time engaging with each of the other media (4-item scale anchored on “most of the time” and “never”).
With the qualitative and quantitative analyses that followed, the authors identified three user categories:
- Information Seekers focus almost exclusively on “surfing the Internet plus texting,” and “watching television plus texting some of the time.” The key for engagement with this audience is to find information across a variety of media vehicles.
- Connecteds “consider their multiple media use to be driven by compulsion; in addition, they value multiple media use to assimilate media content and gain associated social benefits.” The combination of vehicles aims to give them the social connections they crave.
- Instinctives’ multiple media use is “driven predominantly by their comfort with media multitasking and the associated feeling that such behavior is convenient for them.”
Instinctives are the most attractive audience in that they use most of the media combinations at least some of the time. Information Seekers are limited in the combinations that they employ, and Connecteds rarely use combinations, the authors concluded.