Theses and Dissertations


Ziyi Niu

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Marett, Kent

Committee Member

Farmer, Adam

Committee Member

Templeton, Gary

Committee Member

Warkentin, Merrill

Committee Member

Otondo, Robert

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Information Systems

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Business


Department of Management and Information Systems


Information systems provide users with valuable information that is relevant to users’ tasks, as well as irrelevant information that is not helpful to the user. Irrelevant information become a distraction and distract the users from their current task, there by impairing performance. Guided by distraction-conflict theory, processing efficiency theory, attentional control theory, cognitive load theory and memory for goals theory, this study investigated the distraction effect by exploring the research question, “How do task-irrelevant distractions interrupt the users of information systems and influence their performance?”. To investigate how distractions from technology influence users’ performance, this experimental research examined the relationship between the variables of distraction, cognitive load, anxiety and task performance. Data were gathered through lab experiment using imotion eye tracking system. The major findings revealed that task-irrelevant distraction negatively influenced the users by increase anxiety and cognitive load as well as increase the time devoted to primary task. We also found that the cognitive load partially mediates the relationship between distraction and time spending on task.