Funded Phd Research

Shalena Srna

Multitasking: Perception and Shopping

Marketing Department; Faculty Advisers: Rom Y. Schrift and Gal Zauberman

With technological advancements, the desire, ability, and often necessity to multitask are pervasive. Although multitasking refers to the simultaneous execution of multiple tasks, most activities that require active attention cannot actually be done simultaneously. Therefore, whether a certain activity is considered multitasking is often a matter of perception. The current paper demonstrates the malleability of what people perceive as multitasking, showing that the same activity may or may not be construed as multitasking. Importantly, although engaging in multiple tasks may diminish performance, we find that, holding the activity constant, the mere perception of multitasking in fact improves performance. Across 27 studies with performance-based incentives, totaling 7,286 participants, we find that those who perceived an activity as multitasking were more engaged, and consequently outperformed those who perceived that same activity as single-tasking.


In the Press:

New research from Wharton marketing professor Rom Schrift and doctoral student Shalena Srna shows that multitasking is a mere illusion because it is impossible to execute more than one task at a time. Nevertheless, the perception of multitasking seems to be beneficial to performance:

“The Real (and Imaginary) Benefits of Multitasking,” Knowledge at Wharton (December 26, 2017).


Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, October 2017

Bocconi University, Milan, Italy, October 2017

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Candad, October 2017

Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, October 2017

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, September 2017

Annual University of Houston Doctoral Symposium, Houston, TX, April 2017

Society for Consumer Psychology, San Francisco, CA, February 2017

Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Boston, MA, November 2016

Association for Consumer Research, Berlin, Germany, October 2016

Behavioral Decision Research in Management, Toronto, Canada, June 2016

Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, London, UK, May 2016