Paradigms: A Research Journal of Commerce, Economics, and Social Sciences
Print ISSN 1996-2800, Online ISSN 2410-0854
2017, Vol. 11, No. 2 Page: 253-258
Relationship between information overload syndrome (IOS) and stress management of post graduate students
Saralah Devi Mariamdaran
School of Applied Psychology, Policy and Social Work, College of Arts and Sciences, University Utara Malaysia, Malaysia
Arsaythamby A/L Veloo
School of Education and Modern Languages, College of Arts and Sciences, University Utara Malaysia, Malaysia
The objective of the study is to investigate the moderating
role of stress management on the relation of information
overload syndrome and performance of university students.
It has been noticed that owing to rapid growth of internet,
conducting research has become comparatively easy where
data is readily available, but such immense information act
as a noise and students face problem in selecting the exact
information that results in stress and influences students’
performance. Data has been collected through the students of
University Utara Malaysia which has been used to draw
research framework. The results of the paper concluded that
information overload syndrome has an inverse effect on the
performance of students. Moreover, the inclusion of
moderating variable i.e. stress management changes the
inverse impact into positive impact and has expanded the
worth of explained deviation. Hence, the comprehensive
framework has been accepted and the study underlined that
there is a vital impact of stress management on the relation
between information overload syndrome and students’
Keywords: Information Overload Syndrome, Psychology,
University Utara Malaysia, Postgraduates
Outcome of students can be observed when there is over
load of information on the students which results inverse
productivity by virtue of information overload syndrome. In
this era, the word overload is traditional. Students also get
information blogs, emails and other sources where people are
linked with each other and afterwards students share
information and feelings on social media with others
DeAndrea, Ellison, LaRose, Steinfield, and Fiore (2012).
Information overload consists difficulty level when
students are burdened through extra load of information.
Every student around the globe has its own capability that
contains understanding level. Numerous tests can be applied
to identify the level of understanding of a student.
Understanding level of students can also be examined by
giving assignments or tasks to them. Teachers can get high
productivity if they know about the abilities of their students
The studies of information overload system are rapidly
growing. In 20th century, the idea of information overload
has introduced. The problem of information overload has
expanded with the passage of time (Groes, & Sebastian
2016). Today, work overload can be found in students’
groups as well as in various fields. But, it is a main problem
for the students that they have a plenty of load of their
projects and assignments (Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, &
Robinson, 2014). To complete the task, students are
connected with internet from dawn to dusk. Owing to these
problems, the performance of both psychological and other
students are adversely suffering.
In simple words, information overload conveys notion and
receives huge information in optimum time. Immense
communication and information can lead to issues for the
graduates and postgraduates. Under the student’s
community, it can be observed that this is a term which is too
ordinary and is growing immensely. The information
overload, affects the performance of students who are
normally lacking expertise to handle information overload
Ruiz-Gallardo, José-Reyes, González-Geraldo, and Castaño,
(2016). If student faces cognitive strain in addition to higher
level of stress, then it will diminish the satisfaction level and
that will cause stress. Students may study more efficiently
when they are not being stressed on account of information
When students have plenty of load because their studies
and they are not satisfied then stress occurs. Students are
unable to take good decision owing to lack of information
which results in poor performance (Larcombe, Wendy, Letty
Tumbaga, Ian Malkin, Penelope Nicholson, & Tokatlidis,
2013). University students may be unable to take decision in
this situation because they are doing research work that
further expands information overload.
Different scholars quoted that information overload is a
concept, in which students have plenty of information in a
particular field but they overlap and students cannot make
specific decisions. Likewise, it shows that information
requirement is more but student possess less information.
These are the things which are incorporated in the work
overload whilst making research work and projects.
According to Klapp (1986) huge amount of information feels
like irritation and this is happening only when students have
too much irrelevant information. The students have to
oversee immense subjects which are featuring regularly.
They should study all the courses in a short time. Hence, the
information is not endorsed in an optimal way. Students will
show lack of efficiency and effectiveness. The term
information overload can be defined as, there are two
different persons where one has no idea of collecting
information and doesn’t even know how to process is while
other has plenty of data (English, Mary, & Kitsantas, 2013).
In this era, communicational gadgets and programs also
overload the supply of data (Joseph, et al., 2013). The
purpose of sending the vision causes stress among
academicians (Abbott & Andrew, 2014).
Since the data is being collected for last 50 years and now
it is readily available (Pineteh & Ernest, 2012) nd information
can be found globally (Kaplan, 2012). This is the point where
issue appears and students cannot judge relevant information
and force overload syndrome. So it makes a confusion and
creates difficulties for the researchers and students what to
choose or reject. Moreover, in addition to the ease of
information availability, there are many issues which were
proclaimed by the university students and the researchers.
Students have proclaimed that magnitude of information
causes stress and one becomes unable to be satisfied
Few years back, the machines took the place of human
resource that diminishes the quantity of human power in the
market (Compagni, Amelia, Mele, & Ravasi, 2015). In some
areas, the information is a tool to take right decisions (Bono,
Glomb, Shen, Eugene & Koch, 2013). It is very difficult to
take decisions through virtue of less information and these
elements have started diminishing the potential of decision
making. Hence, it has been proved that information overload
has both positive and negative influences. The scholars have
made this particularly for the management but these things
also apply in education sector especially for the universities
(DomíNguez, et al., 2013). These circumstances are not long
lasted and students start losing control on the studies. In the
modern era anyone can see the huge inundation of
information around the world (Stark & John, 2015).
Students can easily find the information and that can result
in overload of information. Through emails, people are
spreading information, it is increasing day by day. One is able
to produce new things through new and unique knowledge.
These things might be extremely valuable and particularly
every one of the happenings in the most recent decade. The
volume of information is growing and it will increase each
day. The problem of workload and syndrome has been
growing step by step and leading us to critical challenges
(Carrigan, 2016). It has created psychological as well as
other. Such problems and conflicts between information and
students’ performance must be solved through most
Now educational institutes have started facing overload
problems. These problems were ignored because
management was taking the issue seriously and now issue can
be easily noticed. Admissions were badly affected owing to
diminishing trend of students due to burning candle on both
ends (Schoenfeld-Tacher, Regina M., Lori R. Kogan,
Beatrice Meyer-Parsons, Kenneth D. Royal, & Shaw, 2015).
The current statistics of Social Sciences department of
University Utara Malaysia have shown poor trends.
UUM CAS Student Registration
Program / Year
The researchers noticed have certain aspects that are
creating issues and have lessen students’ admissions in
higher education. The main cause of this problem is
information overload. In current era, everyone must decrease
the impact of information overload syndrome. Consequently,
this study has been conducted with the facet of universities.
So students are being targeted as respondents. Students are
getting overload with the data as the students of university
are assigned by immense tasks, therefore, they are not
working with such efficiency and effectiveness (Davison,
Ou, & Martinsons, 2013).
Hence, research has been conducted to investigate the
effect of information overload which is growing rapidly and
constructing information overload syndrome among
students. The object of this research is to sort out the cause to
provide an optimal solution. Probably, these problems are
occurring in current circumstances. Therefore, the aim of this
research is to examine the results of previous studies of
information overload syndrome and numerous contradictions
have been taken place and leave the issue unresolved.
According to the scholars, analysis must be made on more
data because past studies and information is not sufficient to
resolve this problem (Garvey, 2014).
The research is being conducted among the students
admitted in northern university in Malaysia. Hence, there is
a dreadful need to carry out this research to give optimal
solution for the problems discussed above.
The objectives of the study are as follows: To find the
relation between information overload syndrome and
performance of university students. To find the moderating
impact of stress management on the relation of information
overload syndrome with performance of university students.
The idea which has been debated in this research is about
students’ performance at University Utara Malaysia. The
performance of university students is repeatedly worsening.
The major cause affecting students’ performance is
information overload syndrome. Stress is also a factor that
inverse the impact of information overload syndrome.
Therefore, it is argued that if the information intensity
increased, then the level of stress will certainly grow
(Webster, & Frank. 2014) and if stress management is done
properly then it has significant influence on the performance
of university students.
Performance of the University Students
There is no particular definition to explain the performance
of students. The standard just focuses on attainment and
procedure that how a student can get his degree and or his
marks whilst understanding his course outline. Nevertheless,
an extensive explanation of performance of university
students attends to the attitudes, competencies, and skills that
the student learns during his tenor in university.
In higher education, the impact of information overload
syndrome on students’ performance is not significantly clear,
yet there are some controversies in the previous literatures
(Cho, Jaehee, & Lee, 2016). Economists failed to give clear
harmony concerning the influences on performance of
students in university. Whether students’ traits and
educational environment explained students’ performance,
Information overload syndrome might be having an effect
over these factors that results consequences of education. So
differences in students’ attainments can be noticed (Kuh,
Cain, Hutchings, & Kinzie, 2014).
The direct connection of information overload syndrome
with performance of university students is focusing on
substantial literatures over the last twenty years. Some
research work explains that there is no confirmation
regarding information overload syndrome in higher
education concerning downturn in the performance of
students. Contrarily, several studies showed immense effect
of information overload syndrome on performance of
university students (Cho, Jaehee, & Lee, 2016).
Connection of stress management is missing whilst
looking at the link between performance of university
students and information overload syndrome (Bartholomew,
2013). It must be specified to the needs and wants of the
university students and adapted to the domestic constraints
and contexts. Information overload syndrome shows broader
possibilities to diminish learning process that can be easily
reduced by stress management.
Information overload simply refers to the level of trouble
that each student faces in understanding problem and to make
right decision. This deficiency in decision making potential
is owing to having extra information. Information overload
develops when the quantity of inserting information in the
brains of university students exceeds its capacity (Gouws,
Rufus, & Tarp, 2016). Students of university often have
limited cognitive processing place. Resultantly, when
communication and information overload develops, it is
somehow that a depletion in quality of decision will develop
and that will resultantly reduce the performance of students
Primarily, information overload is related to the
intelligence of the students and purely depends on the
expertise and skills of a student that are being employed to
finish their assignments. Information overload is frequently
faced while taking decisions (Adamson, et al., 2014).
Information overload is highly dependent on the human
sentiments and intelligence level that if the student is free
from stress and burdens then he may take productive
measures and right decisions (Ahn, 2012). If information
overload fails to be managed, then more inverse factors can
be generated and may affect the performance of students.
They can suffer with the troubles both physically and
mentally (Harish, Jeya, Kumar, & Raja, 2013).
Impact of Information Overload Syndrome on the
Performance of University Students
The main impact of information overload syndrome cause
the damage of productive time of the students which can be
used for other purposes if the mind of the students is not
variated. Information overload syndrome diminishes the
mental capability of students. Information overload
syndrome remarkably impacts the thinking time as student
variated his mind from productive things and consuming
more time in thinking about irrelevant things. Information
overload syndrome not only influence the mind of students
but also affects communication procedure. Information
overload syndrome inversely impacts the planning of work.
Owing to variated minds, university student requires more
time to plan their tasks. All these factors have adverse effect
on life because students are consuming more time on
irrelevant things and having less time for healthy activities or
for sleeping (Zhang, Shuwei, Ling Zhao, Yaobin Lu, &
Yang, 2016). It is fascinating to be noted that university
students feel the need to seek more information and
resultantly, they get confused by collecting immense amount
of data through information (Anderson, 2014). Thus, it
revealed that one having redundant information is like he
doesn’t have enough information to complete the task.
Information overload syndrome intervenes problem solving
and creative learning and thus, lengthen the process of
Moderating Role of Stress Management
Significance of information technologies cannot be
ignored in education sector. No doubt, information
technology has great importance in educational institutes but
universities have to manage their works efficiently and that
is only done by effective application of stress management.
The only point to be noted that if there is an increase
information, then stress will also grow and lead towards
psychological issues. Hence, psychological issues impact
performance of students. As information is collected in huge
quantity, it results in bad performance. But, if students learn
how to manage time and stress, then they will lead to better
performance (Kim, Murrmann, & Lee, 2014).
This segment contains the examination of information that
causes overload in no time and is also used to diminish stress
of the students in Malaysian universities. Consequently, this
paper shows the research framework of three unique
variables that can be understood easily and clearly. The study
used the words, Information overload, Stress management,
and performance of students of university through this, a
framework has been drawn which is shown below:
Figure 1: Conceptual framework connecting information overload, stress
management and performance of students of university
In above figure, it has been shown that information
overload syndrome is taken as independent variable and
performance of students is taken as dependent variable. The
theoretical framework shows information overload syndrome
has an inverse impact on the performance of students. Bad
performance is the major reason behind stress (Hystad, Eid,
Laberg, Johnsen, & Bartone, 2009). Productive time is killed
by stress, resultantly, owing to the previous studies and
theories, it has been argued that stress management has strong
moderating impact on the relation between information
overload syndrome and performance of students.
The methodology segment consists of research design,
sample size, population of the study, hypothesis
development, and sample frame. Sources of data, procedures
and strategies for interpreting the data. It also contains the
techniques and methods which has been utilized for data
analysis and collection. They contain time, unit of analysis
and time in addition to the size of the sample and sampling
frame to be utilized.
On account of above theoretical framework, hypothesis has
been drawn below:
Ha1: Information overload syndrome impacts the
performance of university students
Ha2: Stress management moderates the relation between
information overload syndrome and performance of
Research design is a way which is used in analyzing and
collecting data to reach at a solution. Quantitative method is
used to analyzed the data numerically that represents the
occurrence that studied (Sekaran, 2007). Survey research has
been adopted by the study (Zikmund, Babin, Carr, & Griffin,
2012). Primary data collection has been utilized to get data
on performance of students and information overload
syndrome as well as stress management. In this paper, sample
has been collected through University Utara Malaysia. In this
research data was collected at a point in time.
In this paper the unit of analysis are the post graduate
students of last semester studying in University Utara
Malaysia. In this study, various items have used to compute
the variables by using Likert scale of five points (Hair,
Ringle, & Sarstedt, 2013). This type of Likert scale measures
the behaviors. Hence, both seven and five Likert Scales can
be used but five is preferable on account that it eradicates the
occurrence of errors.
Data has been collected through adapted questionnaire. It
has also been taken into account that questionnaire which has
been used, must be according to the conceptual definition of
variables and define variables in coherent and marvelous
way. Cronbach’s Alpha is used to examine the reliability of
questionnaire. Moreover, for face validity of questionnaire,
the instrument has been adopted from the apparatuses that are
well-established to measure variables of study. Correct
sample size shows the quality of research. Sample size
depends on population size. Table given by Zikmund, which
was used to calculate appropriate sample size (Zikmund,
2007). RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
SPSS was to measure reliability and descriptive of the data
of this study. After confirming the reliability of data as it is
free from all errors as well as there is no difference in early
and late response, structural equation model was done in
PLS-3 (Hair, Sarstedt, Ringle, & Mena, 2012). To develop a
theory and test a model, PLS-SEM is the most appropriate
software. The findings of the direct impact and moderating
influences are following:
Figure 2: PLS Algorithms
Figure 2 reveals the impact of information overload
syndrome on performance of students of university. The
findings shows inverse effect of information overload
syndrome on students’ performance. The value of R square
is .578 which shows 57.8% explanation of students’
performance is made by information overload syndrome.
Furthermore, to find significance level of the model,
bootstrapping model is being used.
Figure 3: PLS Bootstrapping
In the figure 3 results of bootstrapping reveals significance
of the model there is significant effect of information
overload syndrome on students’ performance. Following
table shows the p values and t values that results in
significance relationship of information overload system
with students’ performance
Syndrome - > Student
After investigating that there is a negative relationship
between information overload syndrome and students’
performance. Consequently, stress management has been
introduced as a moderating in theoretical framework. The
outcomes of the moderating impact are following:
Figure 4: PLS Algorithms Moderation
The path coefficients result 0.517 beta value which has
been calculated for moderating impact, in addition to, R
square value has been increased to 0.64 that shows significant
effect of the moderating variable. Moreover, point to be noted
that inverse effect of information overload syndrome is
converted into positive that defines the significance of
moderating variable. Furthermore, boot strapping has been
analyzed to investigate the significance level of variables
Figure 5: PLS Bootstrapping Moderation
The above diagram reveals that the outcomes of
moderating effect are significant. The moderating variable
has been constructed and is shown as significant which can
be observed in table 3.
Information Overload Syndrome - >
Information Overload Syndrome *
Stress Management- > Student
In simple words the proposed framework has been
supported by the results that have been calculated with the
help of primary data collected from the students of University
The results show that the learning capacity of humans can
be enhances by managing stress properly which was caused
through information overload syndrome. Reasonable load of
information is unhelpful for most of the assignments but if
stress is managed in a good way then it can expand the
productivity of the students. Above all, there is no ambiguity
that information overload badly affects the students’
performance but after managing stress then there is no any
adverse impact of information overload syndrome. Results of
this research introduced new framework model which can be
understood for phenomenon of information overload. This
paper gives results which are based on small sample size.
Hence, it is recommended for the researches to increase
sample size in their further research and make comparison
with various fields. Acknowledment
The author would like to thank all the participants from
RAGS Grant for their commitments in making this
evaluation a success and also to all Postgraduates student of
Universiti Utara Malaysia for participating in this study as
research subject. Most gratitude to Department of Higher
Education, Ministry of Higher Education for supporting this
research through Research Acculturation Grant Scheme
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