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Rich and Co.

If You Think You’re Good at Multitasking – You Probably Aren’t

with 3 comments

This is excerpted from the full article with a link below.

Frequent multitaskers are bad at it

Most people believe they can multitask effectively, but a University of Utah study indicates that people who multitask the most — including talking on a cell phone while driving — are least capable of doing so. “What is alarming is that people who talk on cells phones while driving tend to be the people least able to multitask well. Our data suggest the people talking on cell phones while driving are people who probably shouldn’t. We showed that people who multitask the most are those who appear to be the least capable of multitasking effectively.”

“The people who are most likely to multitask harbor the illusion they are better than average at it, when in fact they are no better than average and often worse…

The key findings:

  • “The persons who are most capable of multitasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously.” Instead, people who score high on a test of actual multitasking ability tend not to multitask because they are better able to focus attention on the task at hand.
  • The more people multitask by talking on cell phones while driving or by using multiple media at once, the more they lack the actual ability to multitask, and their perceived multitasking ability “was found to be significantly inflated.” In fact, 70 percent of participants thought they were above average at multitasking, which is statistically impossible.
  • People with high levels of impulsivity and sensation-seeking reported more multitasking. However, there was an exception: People who talk on cell phones while driving tend not to be impulsive, indicating that cell phone use is a deliberate choice.
  • The research suggests that people who engage in multitasking often do so not because they have the ability, but “because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task.”

“The people who multitask the most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multitasking,” …

The 25 percent of the people who performed best on the OSPAN test of multitasking ability “are the people who are least likely to multitask and are most likely to do one thing at a time,”

In contrast, 70 percent of participants said they were above-average at multitasking, and they were more likely to multitask.

“One of the main reasons people multitask is because they think they are good at it.  But our study suggests people rarely are as good at multitasking as they think they are.”

Multitasking ability on the OSPAN was significantly and negatively correlated with actual media multitasking and cell phone use while driving, meaning the people who multitask the most have the least ability to do so.

“If you have people who are multitasking a lot, you might come to the conclusion they are good at multitasking. In fact, the more likely they are to do it, the more likely they are to be bad at it.”

“Our data show people multitask because they have difficulty focusing on one task at a time. They get drawn into secondary tasks. … They get bored and want that stimulation of talking while they are driving.”

Media multitasking — except cell phone use while driving — correlated significantly with impulsivity, particularly the inability to concentrate and acting without thinking. Impulsive people tend to be more reward-oriented and more apt to take risks, so they may be less sensitive to the costs of multitasking…

Multitasking, including cell phone use while driving, correlated significantly with sensation-seeking, indicating some people multitask because it is more stimulating, interesting and challenging, and less boring — even if it may hurt their overall performance.

 

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Written by Rich and Co.

January 27, 2013 at 9:54 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] If You Think You’re Good at Multitasking – You Probably Aren’t (richandco.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] If You Think You’re Good at Multitasking – You Probably Aren’t (richandco.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] If You Think You’re Good at Multitasking – You Probably Aren’t (richandco.wordpress.com) […]


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