Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Wendy L. Bedwell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tammy D. Allen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jamie L. Goldenberg, Ph.D.

Keywords

Interruptions, Mindfulness, Occupational Health Psychology, Strain, Stress, Training

Abstract

Previous research has provided a helpful, albeit narrow, understanding of task interruptions as related to outcomes such as wellness and performance (e.g., Eyrolle & Cellier, 2000). Building on this foundation by viewing interruptions through the broader theoretical context of the theory of mental workload, this study sought to explain the cognitive processes underlying the negative performance effects often associated with interruptions and to apply an intervention aimed at mitigating these effects. Specifically, mindfulness has emerged as a promising method for reducing the cognitive burden of interruptions. This study examined the effects of intrusions (a type of interruption) on psychological strain and performance through perceived mental workload. Although perceived mental workload did predict strain outcomes, the overall mediation models failed to reach significance. Results also failed to support the hypothesized effect of state mindfulness as a potential moderator. A set of post hoc analyses, however, found that intrusion perceptions acted as a mediator between intrusion condition and psychological strain outcomes. Further, this mediation was moderated by state mindfulness, which in turn was moderated by the intrusion time. Specifically, the indirect effect of intrusion condition on strain outcomes was such that individuals experienced more strain if they received an intrusion compared to those who were not given an intrusion, unless they completed the form quickly and were also low on state mindfulness, in which case there was no difference in strain outcomes based on whether they experienced an intrusion. Together, these results suggest that intrusion perceptions play key roles in strain outcomes, and that moderators of these relationships should be further explored.

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