Gareth Halley
Applied Psychology / Year 4

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Gareth Halley

Gareth Halley

Applied Psychology

Year 4

  • Project Title The effects of cognitive load and distractibility on smartphone usability
  • Course BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology
  • Year 4
  • Contact Info gazhalley@gmail.com

How Cognitive Load and Distractibility Affect Smartphone Usability

To investigate the role that cognitively-loaded working memory and trait distractibility play when interacting with a text messaging application. This project measured trait distractibility with the use of SDDQ followed by text messaging tasks, where each participant rating their experienced cognitive load. The aim of the study was to use these factors to assess how usability is affected by cognitive load and distractibility. Specifically, the experiment measured how much the text messaging task suffered due to increasing levels of distraction.

Project Description

The design of the experiment was 2x2 within-groups experimental design, where each participant was asked to complete a text messaging task in varying controlled environments of distraction (control, low, high). Prior to taking part in the experiment each participant completed the Susceptibility to Driver Distractions Questionnaire (SDDQ). After each of the three texting tasks, each participant completed the Paas Subjective Rating Scale to assess cognitive load. The independent variables for the experiment were the SDDQ and condition of distraction. The dependent variables were stage of task completion and cognitive load experienced.The hypotheses tested were: H1 (a): there is a significant relationship between task completion and high distractibility. H1 (b): there is a significant relationship between task completion and low distractibility. H2 (a): there is a significant relationship between cognitive load and high distractibility. H2 (b): there is a significant relationship between cognitive load and low distractibility. H3 & 4 Stated in findings. H5(a): there is a statistically significant difference in task completion based on participants perceived distractibility in the low distraction conditions. H5(b): there is a statistically significant difference in task completion based on participants perceived distractibility in the high distraction conditions. H6(a): there is a statistically significant difference in cognitive load based on participants perceived distractibility in the low distraction conditions. H6(b): there is a statistically significant difference in cognitive load based on participants perceived distractibility in the high distraction conditions.

Project Findings

Findings indicated that hypotheses 3 and 4 were both supported. Hypotheses 3 stated there will be a significant difference on stage of task completion based on condition of external distraction. Hypotheses 4 stated there will be a significant difference on stage of task completion based on condition of external distraction. However the expected findings stated in hypotheses 1, 2, 5, and 6 were not computed to be statistically significant.

Gareth Halley
Applied Psychology / Year 4