Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 1 2022 pp. 187-217

Repeated IT Interruption: Habituation and Sensitization of User Responses

Weinert, Christoph, Maier, Christian, Laumer, Sven, and Weitzel, Tim


Information technology (IT) interruptions are IT-based events that capture users’ attention and interfere with other activities. This study focuses on repeated IT interruption and task performance. We draw on dual-process theory and suggest that users may get used to repeated IT interruption, known as habituation, or may become hypersensitive, known as sensitization. We validate the research model based on data from a laboratory experiment with 100 subjects by using a multivariate latent growth model (LGM). With subjective and objective measurement techniques, we show how users respond to repeated IT interruption with physiological arousal, psychological exhaustion, and behavioral task performance. Our results indicate that user responses follow different patterns over time, revealing time-dependent effects of arousal and exhaustion on task performance. We contribute to literature by providing evidence that repeated IT interruption results in unique habituation and sensitization user response patterns compared to a single IT interruption.

Key words and phrases: IT interruption, user attention, dual-process theory, IS use, longitudinal research, latent growth modeling, arousal, exhaustion, task performance, skin conductance, continuance state sampling, NeuroIS