Taking Notes or Playing Games? Understanding Multitasking in Video Communication


This paper presents a detailed examination of factors that affect perceptions of, and attitudes towards multitasking in dyadic video conferencing. We first report findings from interviews with 15 professional users of videoconferencing. We then report results from a controlled online experiment with 397 participants based in the United States. Our results show that the technology used for multitasking has a significant effect on others’ assumptions of what secondary activity the multitasker is likely engaged in, and that this assumed activity in turn affects evaluations of politeness and appropriateness. We also describe how different layouts of the video conferencing UI may lead to better or worse ratings of engagement and in turn ratings of polite or impolite behavior. We then propose a model that captures our results and use the model to discuss implications for behavior and for the design of video communication tools.