Distracted mind: the effects of multitasking and mind wandering on consumer memory for ad content

Sydney Chinchanachokchai, Brittany R.L. Duff, Ronald J. Faber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People frequently do not pay full attention to advertising messages to which they are exposed. While external distraction such as active avoidance (e.g., multitasking while ads play) or background noise have been identified as causes, in many situations, consumers may also be distracted by an internal cause- mind wandering. While external distractions are thought to lead to worse ad outcomes, this research examines the potential benefits of multiple tasks (multitasking) in the context of mind wandering and how they affect memory for ad content. Through a series of three experiments, we show that even when no external alternative activity is occurring, memory for ad content may still be negatively impact by the increased presence of mind wandering. However, multitasking with a low-level perceptual task can actually increase memory about ads while decreasing mind wandering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-654
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Advertising
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020


  • Multitasking
  • attention
  • distraction
  • memory
  • mind wandering
  • perceptual load
  • secondary task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Marketing


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