A conceptual typology of multitasking behavior and polychronicity preferences

Giovanni Circella, Patricia L. Mokhtarian, Laura K. Poff

Multitasking, polychronicity, time use, personality, attitudes

This paper introduces a conceptual framework for the systematic analysis of multitasking behavior, and the corresponding degree of preference for doing multiple activities simultaneously (polychronicity). A typology of multitasking is developed along the two dimensions “share of time” and “share of resources” allocated to each task. We discuss the heterogeneous nature of resources and the importance of the time scale and time granularity used for measuring multitasking, among other considerations. An illustrative library of examples of multitasking situations is provided. Finally, we discuss the measurement of polychronicity as a time- and context-dependent vector, rather than as a single score.