Gloria Mark is Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD from Columbia University in psychology. She has been a visiting senior researcher at Microsoft Research since 2012. Her primary research interest is in understanding the impact of digital media on people's lives and she is best known for her work in studying people's multitasking, mood and behavior while using digital media in real world environments. She has published over 150 papers in the top journals and conferences in the fields of human-computer interactions (HCI) and Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) and is author of the book Multitasking in the Digital Age. She was inducted into the ACM SIGCHI Academy in 2017 in recognition for her contribution in HCI. She has been a Fulbright scholar and has received an NSF Career grant. Her work has been recognized outside of academia: she has been invited to present her work at SXSW and the Aspen Ideas Festival and her work on multitasking has appeared in the popular media, e.g. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Atlantic, the BBC, and many others. She was general co-chair of the ACM CHI 2017 conference, was papers chair of ACM CSCW 2012 and ACM CSCW 2006, and currently serves as Associate Editor of the ACM TOCHI and Human-Computer Interaction journals.
Areas of Expertise (4)
ACM CHI Academy (professional)
Google Research Award (professional)
IBM Faculty Award (professional)
Columbia University: PhD, Psychology 1991
The University of Michigan: MS, Biostatistics 1984
- Assoc. for Computing Machinery (ACM) : Member
- ACM SIGCHI
- Fulbright Association
Media Appearances (14)
Man, Interrupted — The High Cost of Distractions
The cost of losing focus is about 25 minutes per interruption. … And I didn’t make this stuff up. Multiple academics have studied how long it takes to return to your original task after an interruption. It turns out Gloria Mark from the University of California, Irvine is the Original G on this topic. She says these distractions not only ruin your focus and mental progress, but they also have negative emotional effects. They often lead to higher stress and bad moods. Sure, Gloria notes half of our daily interruptions are self-inflicted; and it’s just more time wasted — it’s keeping us from our best thinking.
In defense of busywork
The Verge online
I reached out to Gloria Mark …to ask her how workers might fare in a post-busywork society. I was particularly interested to hear from Mark because she was a co-author of a 2014 study by researchers from UC Irvine and Microsoft which found that people are happiest when doing rote work and most stressed when doing focused work. Mark told me my questions about an AI future raise a specific concern for her. “If people are going to be saddled with all this complex work because we’re being relieved of doing lighter work, then this can lead to burnout,” she said. … “I think busywork, even though it may not make us happy, is a way to relieve this cognitive load, because we’re doing things that don’t require a lot of thought.”
Actually, compartmentalizing can be good for you
Los Angeles Times online
As questions about our political, environmental and technological future loom, experts say that compartmentalizing can be a useful tool to help us regulate our emotions and face challenges without falling apart. Yes, it’s a defense mechanism that sometimes gets a bad rap, said Gloria Mark … professor [emeritus] of informatics at UC Irvine — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you. “It’s a function that helps us navigate through our days without being burdened by all the stress,” she said.
Addicted to distraction: How our world is robbing our ability to pay attention
KCRW – Life Examined online
This fundamental shift in how we live, think, and work has been the focus of over 20 years of research for Gloria Mark. She’s a psychologist and professor of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California. Irvine. In 2004, when Mark started her research, the average attention span was two and a half minutes. By 2020 that number had decreased to 47 seconds - and technology has played a significant role in that rapid decline. …
The Hidden Cost of Distractions, and How to Short-Circuit Them
Gloria Mark, of the University of California, Irvine, detailed in a 2006 Gallup article that the average amount of time people spent on any single event before being interrupted or before switching was about three minutes. More shocking still was the revelation that it required an average of 23 minutes to return to the original task. (It's worth noting, too, that this research is more than 15 years old, and that digital tools and their inherent distractions have since become even more ingrained in our lives.)
The Science of Rescuing Your Attention Span | Gloria Mark
Ten Percent Happier online
The average attention span has now declined to just 47 seconds on any particular screen. … Today we’re going to meet the scientist who’s done this research, find out what’s driving this, and what we can do about it. … Dr. Gloria Mark is the Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. She has been a visiting senior researcher at Microsoft Research since 2012. She’s written a book called Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity
How to be alone with your thoughts
Gloria Mark, a professor emerita in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine and author of Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity, reflects on three positive things from the day before bed each night. When the topics of thought are more personally meaningful and positive, people find the practice more enjoyable, studies show.
Struggling to finish this sentence? Pay attention! (Democracy depends on it)
You can read about 120 words in 47 seconds …. I heard these statistics—listening to a podcast, see, rather than staring at a screen?—on the admirable Ezra Klein Show from the New York Times. He was interviewing Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who has made a career out of studying the way our attention works. Because people fool themselves about their attention span, her team used sophisticated computer logging software to come up with the rather deadly 47 second figure.
How to Calm Your Busy Mind, According to World-Renowned Brain Coach Jim Kwik
A study from University of California, Irvine, shows how distractions can really disrupt your day. "You have to completely shift your thinking, it takes you a while to get into it and it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were," said Gloria Mark, lead author of the study [and professor emeritus at UC Irvine]. "We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here's the bad news—it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task."
Can't find your car keys? Robots will remember better than you can
Dr. Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics [emeritus] at the University of California, Irvine, who studies how digital media affects our lives, has written a book validating the supposition that our ability to focus is in peril. "In 2004, we measured the average attention on a screen to be two and a half minutes," Mark writes. "Some years later, we found attention spans to be about 75 seconds. Now we find people can only pay attention to one screen for an average of 47 seconds," she says.
Are attention spans getting shorter (and does it matter)?
CBS News online
Gloria Mark, an attention researcher [and professor emeritus] at the University of California, Irvine, is author of "Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity". She says there is scientific evidence attention spans are getting shorter. … Mark maintains that a shorter attention span has three downsides: "The first is that people make more errors when they do attention shifting; second downside is that it takes longer to do something, because we have to reorient to every new task every time we shift; the third downside -- maybe this is the worst of all -- is that stress increases. When people are working on multiple tasks and they have to shift their attention, their blood pressure rises."
4 Strategies For Leaders To Reclaim Your Attention In The Age Of Distraction
Research by University of California Irvine Professor Gloria Mark [Professor Emeritus of informatics] suggests that workers are interrupted on average every 3 minutes. … As a leader, you must not fritter away your attention, since it’s one of your most important assets. Here are 4 strategies to help you focus more ….
The Beauty of a Silent Walk
The New York Times online
We now spend an average of about 47 seconds on a piece of screen content before switching to another piece of content, according to research led by Gloria Mark, a professor [emeritus] of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of “Attention Span.” Continually flipping our attention from one task to another is draining, Dr. Mark said. But a silent walk can help replenish our “tank” so that we have a greater reserve of mental energy, she added. In other words, disconnecting for a while can actually help us perform better.
The Distracted Brain
Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks to Gloria Mark, [emeritus] professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, and author of “Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity.” She’ll tell us what’s actually going on in the brain when we’re attentive and why we’re less focused than we used to be. Professor Mark will also share tips for sharpening our attention spans that go beyond “just put down your phone.”
Characterizing Exploratory Behaviors on a Personal Visualization Interface Using Interaction LogsOSF Preprints
Poorna TalkadSukumar, Gonzalo J Martinez, Ted Grover, Gloria Mark, Sidney D'Mello, Nitesh V Chawla, Stephen M Mattingly, Aaron D Striegel
2020 Personal visualizations present a separate class of visualizations where users interact with their own data to draw inferences about themselves. In this paper, we study how a realistic understanding of personal visualizations can be gained from analyzing user interactions. We designed an interface presenting visualizations of the personal data gathered in a prior study and logged interactions from 369 participants as they each explored their own data.
A Multisensor Person-Centered Approach to Understand the Role of Daily Activities in Job Performance with Organizational PersonasProceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Vedant Das Swain, Koustuv Saha, Hemang Rajvanshy, Anusha Sirigiri, Julie M Gregg, Suwen Lin, Gonzalo J Martinez, Stephen M Mattingly, Shayan Mirjafari, Raghu Mulukutla, Subigya Nepal, Kari Nies, Manikanta D Reddy, Pablo Robles-Granda, Andrew T Campbell, Nitesh V Chawla, Sidney D'Mello, Anind K Dey, Kaifeng Jiang, Qiang Liu, Gloria Mark, Edward Moskal, Aaron Striegel, Louis Tay, Gregory D Abowd, Munmun De Choudhury
2019 Several psychologists posit that performance is not only a function of personality but also of situational contexts, such as day-level activities. Yet in practice, since only personality assessments are used to infer job performance, they provide a limited perspective by ignoring activity. However, multi-modal sensing has the potential to characterize these daily activities. This paper illustrates how empirically measured activity data complements traditional effects of personality to explain a worker's performance.
Stress and productivity patterns of interrupted, synergistic, and antagonistic office activitiesScientific Data
Shaila Zaman, Amanveer Wesley, Dennis Rodrigo Da Cunha Silva, Pradeep Buddharaju, Fatema Akbar, Ge Gao, Gloria Mark, Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna & Ioannis Pavlidis
2019 We describe a controlled experiment, aiming to study productivity and stress effects of email interruptions and activity interactions in the modern office. The measurement set includes multimodal data for n = 63 knowledge workers who volunteered for this experiment and were randomly assigned into four groups: (G1/G2) Batch email interruptions with/without exogenous stress.
The Perpetual Work Life of Crowdworkers: How Tooling Practices Increase Fragmentation in CrowdworkProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Alex C Williams, Gloria Mark, Kristy Milland, Edward Lank, Edith Law
2019 Crowdworkers regularly support their work with scripts, extensions, and software to enhance their productivity. Despite their evident significance, little is understood regarding how these tools affect crowdworkers' quality of life and work. In this study, we report findings from an interview study (N=21) aimed at exploring the tooling practices used by full-time crowdworkers on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Understanding smartphone usage in college classrooms: A long-term measurement studyComputers & Education
Inyeop Kim, Rihun Kim, Heepyung Kim, Duyeon Kim, Kyungsik Han, Paul H Lee, Gloria Mark, Uichin Lee
2019 Smartphone usage is widespread in college classrooms, but there is a lack of measurement studies. We conducted a 14-week measurement study in the wild with 84 first-year college students in Korea. We developed a data collection and processing tool for usage logging, mobility tracking, class evaluation, and class attendance detection. Using this dataset, we quantify students' smartphone usage patterns in the classrooms, ranging from simple use duration and frequency to temporal rhythms and interaction patterns.