This study explored the multitasking information behaviour of Web users and how this is influenced by working memory, flow and Personal, Artefact and Task characteristics, as described in the PAT model. The research was exploratory using a pragmatic, mixed method approach. Thirty University students participated; 10 psychologists, 10 accountants and 10 mechanical engineers. The data collection tools used were: pre and post questionnaires, a working memory test, a flow state scale test, audio-visual data, web search logs, think aloud data, observation, and the critical decision method. All participants searched information on the Web for four topics: two for which they had prior knowledge and two more without prior knowledge. Perception of task complexity was found to be related to working memory. People with low working memory reported a significant increase in task complexity after they had completed information searching tasks for which they had no prior knowledge, this was not the case for tasks with prior knowledge. Regarding flow and task complexity, the results confirmed the suggestion of the PAT model (Finneran and Zhang, 2003), which proposed that a complex task can lead to anxiety and low flow levels as well as to perceived challenge and high flow levels. However, the results did not confirm the suggestion of the PAT model regarding the characteristics of web search systems and especially perceived vividness. All participants experienced high vividness. According to the PAT model, however, only people with high flow should experience high levels of vividness. Flow affected the degree of change of knowledge of the participants. People with high flow gained more knowledge for tasks without prior knowledge rather than people with low flow. Furthermore, accountants felt that tasks without prior knowledge were less complex at the end of the web seeking procedure than psychologists and mechanical engineers. Finally, the three disciplines appeared to differ regarding the multitasking information behaviour characteristics such as queries, web search sessions and opened tabs/windows.

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