Both personality and contexts may account for media multitasking in the college classroom. As this area of research was lacking, the present study examined which personality traits would be associated with in-class media multitasking in different contexts of text messaging. Undergraduate students (83 males and 65 females; average age: 20.0 [SD = 4.3]) completed a questionnaire on demographic characteristics, general text-messaging behavior, and Big Five personality traits as well as a delay-discounting task. This task had two hypothetical scenarios in which participants received either an urgent text message from their significant other (Significant Other condition) or a non-urgent message from a casual friend (Casual Friend condition), and they rated their likelihood of immediately replying to the message during the class versus waiting to reply until the class was over. For each of the conditions, hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine whether personality traits predicted the likelihood of waiting, after controlling for demographic characteristics and general text-messaging behavior. Whereas only conscientiousness independently predicted the likelihood of waiting in the Significant Other condition (β =.20, p =.033), only agreeableness independently predicted the likelihood in the Casual Friend condition (β =.27, p =.002). These findings contribute to the sparse literature on links of personality traits and in-class media multitasking by highlighting the possible context-dependent aspects of these links. The findings also indicate potential directions of future research including exploring approaches to reducing media multitasking in the college classroom while taking both personality and specific contexts into consideration.
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