Effect of Peripheral Communication Pace on Attention Allocation in a Dual-Task Situation

  • Sofiane Gueddana
  • Nicolas Roussel
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5727)


Peripheral displays allow continuous awareness of information while performing other activities. Monitoring such a display while performing a central task has a cognitive cost that depends on its perceptual salience and the distraction it causes, i.e. the amount of attention it attracts away from the user’s primary action. This paper considers the particular case of peripheral displays for interpersonal communication. It reports on an experiment that studied the effect of peripheral communication pace on subjects’ allocation of attention in a dual-task situation: a snapshot-based peripheral monitoring task where participants need to assess the presence of a remote person, and a central text-correcting task against the clock. Our results show that the addition of the peripheral task caused a drop in the success rate of the central task. As the pace of snapshots increased, success rate decreased on the peripheral task while on the central one, success rate remained the same but failures to reply in time occurred more frequently. These results suggest that the increase in pace of snapshots caused participants to change their strategy for the central task and allocate more attention to the peripheral one, not enough to maintain peripheral performance but also not to the point where it would affect central performance. Overall, our work suggests that peripheral communication pace subtly influences attention allocation in dual-task situations. We conclude by discussing how control over information pace could help users of communication systems to adjust their local distraction as well as the attention they draw from remote users.


Computer-mediated communication peripheral communication attention allocation 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofiane Gueddana
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nicolas Roussel
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.LRI - Univ. Paris-Sud & CNRSOrsayFrance
  2. 2.INRIAOrsayFrance

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