OBJECTIVE: The present research examines the role of individual differences in self-regulation (i.e., demand-related action-state orientation) on initiative to resume an interrupted task.
METHOD: In three studies (N1 = 208, 55% male, Mage = 33.2; N2 = 457, 62% male, Mage = 31.7; N3 = 210, 60% male, Mage = 32.6), participants were notified about a network interruption while playing a computer game. Participants could dismiss the interrupting notification by clicking a continue button or wait until the notification timed out. We manipulated demand by presenting notifications during (demand) versus after game rounds (no demand).
RESULTS: Demand-related action orientation was associated with higher probability to dismiss the notification during a game round, controlling for dismissal after a game round. Findings occurred when controlling for task ability and task motivation, were specific for demand- and not threat-related action orientation, were complemented by shorter dismissal latencies, and were stable across interruption timeouts (Studies 1-3). Exposure through repetition resulted in adaptation (Study 3).
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that people with lower action orientation have less self-regulatory ability to initiate goal-directed action and resume interrupted tasks-even if they are just a click away. Findings are discussed within the framework of Personality Systems Interactions theory.