Digital Technology and Human Psychology Research

Cybercology Research

Current Research:

‘What strategies do professionals use in their day-to-day management of their work and personal commitments through the use of both personal and professional technology’.

Remote working during Covid-19 has impacted individuals in different ways.

 Some studies show that individuals used a range of strategies to manage their work-home boundaries during the time of lockdowns, while others find that such segmentation strategies may have been abandoned altogether among some working parents.

Since then, hybrid working has become a new norm for many professionals and many businesses are continuing flexible working arrangements. 

This study aims to understand how professionals use technology to manage their professional and personal responsibilities and the strategies they use to delineate their work and home boundaries. There is little research in this area at present. 

This project is affiliated with the University of Buckingham and there are no funding partners associated with this research. The results of this study can be beneficial to inform practices by organisational psychologists, HR professionals, managers or workers themselves by highlighting how individuals manage their work- and home-based technology in the pursuit of maintaining a better work-life balance. 

This research has received ethics approval from the University of Buckingham. 

If you would like to be involved or would like a copy of the final research report, please get in touch and we will message you directly with the details. 

Researchers: Dr Maša Popovac and Carolyn Freeman

This research is an MSc quantitative study carried out during Lockdown 1.0 (Spring and early Summer of 2020) with knowledge worker parents, investigating their use of digital media during private time. 

Other Academic Research Summaries

Research on the impact of technology on human behaviour and psychology in the workplace has been conducted in a number of different academic disciplines, across a variety of countries and within different industrial/organisational contexts.

The research featured here may be directly or indirectly psychologically or behaviourally related to the use of technology by ‘knowledge workers’ (i.e. those who use technology to produce knowledge-based assets for profit or non-profit organisations). It 

The summaries below highlight, in one way or another, the impact of when, why and how technology is used in our general ‘work, live and play’ – from a psychological and behavioural perspective.

Boundary Blurring

From Work to Life and Back Again: Examining the Digitally-Mediated Work/Life Practices of a Group of Knowledge Workers (Ciolfi L., & Lockley E., 2018):

This Qualitative Research conducted in Sheffield England examines how professional knowledge workers manage their work and home life segmentation strategies – including how they blur the boundaries between work and home life. 

Technological Tethering, Digital Natives, and Challenges in the Work-Family Interface (Nevin, A., Schieman, S., 2020):

This Canadian-based research investigates whether generational digital familiarity alters the use of technology during private time. 

Cognition and Attention

The Mere Presence of a Cell Phone May Be Distracting: Implications for Attention and Task Performance (Thornton, B., Alyson, F., Maija, R., Rollins, E., 2014)

Previous research has shown that using a phone can be distracting while multi-tasking, such as while walking or driving. Recent research has even shown that the simple presence of a phone (e.g. placed on a table), with all the connections and networks that it represents, can distract from in-person physical social interactions and connections. This research goes a step further to investigate the distracting capability of mobile phones while performing tasks that require greater cognitive demands within the workplace (and in education). 

Information Security

Exploring the Role of Work Identity and Work Locus of Control in Information Security Awareness (Hadlington, L., Popovac, M., Janicke, J., Yevseyeva, I., Jones, K., 2019)

This research explores ‘the adherence to organisational information security and the role of work-related and individual factors such as individuals’ perceived control within the workplace, their commitment to current work identity, and the extent to which they are reconsidering commitment to work.’

Managing Work-Life Balance

When You Just Cannot Get Away – Exploring the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Facilitating Negative Work/Home Spillover (Berkowski, R., 2013).

This research investigates the negative impact of mobile digital technology use in relation to work spilling over into home life and home life spilling over into the workplace.

Are communications about work outside regular working hours associated with work-to-family conflict, psychological distress and sleep problems? (Schieman, S., Young, M., 2013).

This research investigates how engaging in work-based activities outside of working hours may lead to increased levels of conflict with the family and issues with sleep.

Remote, Hybrid and Flexible Working

Three Generations of Telework: New ICTs and the (R)evolution from Home Office to Virtual Office (Messenger, J., Lutz, G., 2016).

This research is a deep dive into how revolutions in digital technology have evolved through three main stages since 1970. 

Work Productivity

The Paradox of Perceived Productivity in Working Parents (Dumas, T., Perry-Smith, J., 2018)

In this study, researchers investigated how commitments after work affected the levels of productivity and focus of knowledge workers during working hours. They found that working parents were more likely than single people to be more absorbed in work.

Making Time Off Predictable – and Required (Perlow, L., Porter, J., 2009)

This research study is based on work conducted with the Boston Consulting Group and published In the Harvard Business Review. The researchers found that “when the assumption that everyone needs to be always available was collectively challenged, not only could individuals take time off, but their work actually benefited”.

Workplace Norms

The Autonomy Paradox: The Implications of Mobile Email Devices for Knowledge Professionals (Mazmanian, M., Wanda, O., Yates, J., 2013)

This research is widely cited by those in the field of human-technology behaviour. It notes how giving professional knowledge workers autonomy in what work they conduct during private time increases, rather than reduces the amount of time they actually spend working after hours. 

Technology, Mind and Behaviour Journal (American Psychology Association Open Access Journal) has joined the Science Open Platform. 

Click here to access their website page.