Investigating the role of mindfulness and implementation intentions in mitigating unintended negative consequences of information and communication Te

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Psychology


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become a pervasive part of our day-to-day
working lives. Their benefits, including unprecedented levels of connectedness and productivity, are
well understood. However, the same technology that is providing organizations and individuals with
so much opportunity also comes with a 'dark side' that includes a body of unintended negative
consequences (D'Arcy et al. 2014). Pirkkalainen & Salo (2016) have identified four 'dark side'
phenomena: technostress, information overload, IT 'addiction' and IT anxiety. These phenomena
threaten to make individuals' relationship with workplace ICTs a toxic one that can have damaging
consequences both for individual well-being and organisational outcomes (e.g. Maier et al. 2017,
Agogo & Hess 2018). This PhD will examine how these 'dark side' phenomena manifest for working
individuals and explore the potential of mindfulness and implementation intentions as mitigation
Although there is no universally agreed conceptualisation of mindfulness in the academic literature,
most definitions agree that attention and awareness are at its heart (Ioannou, Papazafeiropoulou &
Spanaki 2018). Perhaps one of the best known and widely used definitions is that of mindfulness
pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994, p.4): "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on
purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgementally.". The most frequently evidenced and cited
benefit of mindfulness is stress reduction in individuals (Ioannou, Papazafeiropoulou & Spanaki
2018). While there is also limited research suggesting that it may help individuals mitigate the
unintended negative consequences of technology use (e.g. Miller & Brannon 2017, Wolf, Pintner &
Beck 2011), this area appears to be under-explored at present.
Notably, Chatzisarantis and Hagger (2007) found that mindfulness can facilitate the translation of
intentions into actions, paralleling the approach of implementation intentions. Implementation
intentions are if-then plans that link environmental cues with specific responses, strengthening the
normally weak link between intention and behaviour, thereby facilitating goal attainment (Gollwitzer
and Sheeran 2006). The relationship between mindfulness and implementation intentions has yet to be
explored and it is possible that the two may operate in a similar way or may interact to increase
overall effectiveness. For instance, mindful awareness may aid mechanisms by which implementation
intentions work, such as creating and strengthening implicit associations; and implementation
intentions could be developed specifically to support intentions to be mindful in particular
Commencing with a diary methodology with a sample of individuals currently in the workplace, the
PhD will explore the predictions that:
1. Individuals who are higher in mindfulness are less likely to experience the unintended
negative consequences of work-related use of ICTs.
2. Developing mindfulness can support individuals' coping ability and self-regulation in relation
to work-related use of ICTs, thereby helping mitigate unintended negative consequences.
3. Mindfulness and implementation intentions can work synergistically to help individuals using
ICT for work to mitigate any unintended negative consequences.
The proposed research aims to advance academic understanding of the unintended consequences of
work-related ICT use, the ways in which mindfulness and implementation intentions operate, and
their potential as mitigation mechanisms. Practically, the research findings will produce a template for
behaviour interventions to reduce negative impacts of work-related ICT use. It will also provide
guidelines on how organisations can support the reduction of technostress, information overload, IT
'addiction' and IT anxiety among workers.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000711/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2271149 Studentship ES/P000711/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2026 Elizabeth Marsh