Paper On The Illusion of Multitasking and Its positive effect

In the past, the need to multitask wasn’t as demanding as today’s needs. People are using their phones while executing and juggling multiple things. How can we discern if were multitasking? Do we just think that we are juggling multiple tasks? Switching back and forth between multiple tasks is more likely what’s going on. What people think is multitasking is actually pretty fluid. People who think they are multitasking and view it as such tend to do better than a unitasker usually.

Multitasking is a sought after trait. It is seen as very essential in this day and age and most people in the U.S. think that they can execute multitasking as good as others or above their level. Previous research by Borger and Creamer in the sixties suggested that we cannot multitask rather we just switch between simultaneous activities and switch back.

People process things one piece at a time which insinuates that multitasking is a matter of that individual’s perception.

Context is key here. The article sets out to answer how depending on the perception, of course, multitasking or monotasking impacts performance levels. Two key components I was able to pick out is it essentially depends on how hard a task is and how hard it is expected to be. The harder requirements that a task requires the more “Attention Bucks” we need to give to a particular task. As described in Cognitive Psychology class Attention bucks are where our focus is, where we are choosing to pay attention to ignoring other things.

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I found the hypothesis interesting that the more demanding the more enthralled we become. The primary intentions of Study 1A and that of 1B was to present activities as either Multitasking or monotasking and log its impact on performance. 1A participants were required to watch and commit to paper an educational video. 1B, the partakers were to give a rundown of an online lecture. The first thing (1A)was to analyze the number of words that were written down by participants (multitaskers did better). They analyzed how accurate the words were pertaining to the video using a text match application and surprise, surprise the multitaskers out performed the unitaskers. As an added bonus a surprise quiz was given at the end, as expected the ones that were presented with the multitasking stipulation did a lot better than the monotaskers. They didn’t leave out the amount of time that participants took and logged that there was not a big difference regarding persistence. Multitaskers did transcribe more words per second. The participants were told the tasks they’d be doing required multitasking. The researchers were trying to see the effect of their manipulation at work. 1B, participants all worked on the same task. They watched an online lecture and were to take notes about what the lecture discussed. Each participant was selected at random for either the multitask group or single task category. The word multitasking wasn’t actually used to describe what the participants would be doing, but were clear that they were two separate tasks expected of them and they were to be performed at the exact same time. The single taskers just thought it was one task at hand. Two individuals (coders) who were blind to the hypothesis, determined the quality of the notes thus an average score was calculated for each participant. Based on the coders measurements the multitasking conditions had more in-depth quality note taking. They also wrote more words than monotaskers.

Regarding Study 2A, the primary goal was to calculate the perceptions regarding multitasking instead of manipulating and telling them expectations. It was designed to measure perception and it discussed if the behaviors would have occurred regardless. This time partakers were presented with puzzles. The first puzzle was a word puzzle where the participants were asked to find as many words as they could muster. The second was an Anagram in which the participants made as many words that can be formed using a 10 letter string. After the participants were done with the puzzles it was about their ideas regarding the task as either mono tasking or multitasking. A particular response format was used. They were matched up with a partner and were to tell their partner how they perceived their activity. As predicted there was a pretty good amount of words and correct words among the multitaskers. The more the partakers felt as if they were juggling multiple tasks the better they did.

Concerning Study 2B, the same puzzles were used as Study 2A. For the multitasking category, the puzzles were presented as if they had to do with separate studies. They were separated by lines on the screen and had a different backdrop color. For the single taskers, it was presented as the same study and were not separated whatsoever. The manipulations that were set forth went according to plan. The assigned multitaskers found more words. The multitaskers also were more persistent and for a longer amount of time. I deduced that performance is best when we perceive an activity as multitasking. Study 3, concerned itself with pupil dilation. It was designed to measure effort, attention, and how well we process incoming info. Using eye tracking research methods performance was measured and as expected multitaskers performed better with that task (puzzles employed in 2A and 2B). Apparently, people that were multitasking had bigger pupils than those who were single-tasking. It seemed like the multitaskers found more words but there is not a direct connection link made describing how they were able to find more solutions over the mono taskers. More words were found across the multitaskers, their pupils were bigger and showed better focus than unitaskers. Multitaskers were more inclined to switch back and forth as well among the puzzles. Some of the studies directly employed the word multitasking while other studies didn’t make a mention of the word. Some of the studies had a certain time limit while others can be stopped whenever. When partakers multitasked, it was hard to ascertain why they did better and how exactly they switched back and forth between tasks and it made it hands-down confounded. Confounded is where a researcher is unable to distinguish a cause and effect of their actions and how it may affect a study. It is often counted out because they can’t accurately put forth the results of the study. Even though these studies did offer additional cash for correct answers it didn’t have a profound effect one way or another when it came down to it. Partakers didn’t do any better knowing they would get extra cash money. It also touched on how the other studies were executed and how they ended their work off. There was a positive effect noted across the multitaskers and this was ascertained using the bootstrap estimation approach, this approach is like a random sampling methodology that can be used so that it represents the population eliminating biases. I found it interesting that extra cash incentives didn’t affect performance levels.

The underlying theory was in this day and age multitasking is becoming more and more of a necessity. Can people actually multitask? It sets out to support how our perception of something weighs in on our capabilities and it sets out to support that if we see something as a multitasking task, we tend to be more attentive versus lumping it together like monotasking. It set out to support how we perceive things matter. We are more actively engaged in multitasking as opposed to monotasking. The initial hypothesis set out to support whether multitasking is possible, but also its effect on performance. It had a positive effect when people knew or perceived it as a multitasking task versus monotask endeavors. It is in no way better than monotasking but we just tend to engage more with a multitasking task.

I do think that the results that were yielded did accurately reflect the hypothesis in question. The researchers were able to ascertain performance based on whether it’s participants were told that they were mono-tasking or multitasking. They were able to answer that while mono-tasking isn’t necessarily superior it’s just that we actively tend to engage more with multitasking. It had a positive effect on performance when its partakers thought a task required a multitasking outlook. Is Multitasking more or less challenging than its latter? The article stated throughout its contents that participants in the multitasking category did as expected, which lead me to believe that the results were as they predicted and the outcome although not exact, was pretty close when the researchers brought everything to a close.

I think follow-up studies that could help to support the hypothesis that would be beneficial and fascinating to measure, might be participants perceptions and moods in regards to these studies using an electroencephalogram. Then we could see the specific brain areas that affect how they see the world and a stab at how they interpret multitasking versus monotasking. It would be cool to study the attention focal points of the brain. To get a glimpse of the areas lighting up and see how the EEG measured abilities to take on tasks and place them into what category. The old research yielded results based on correct solutions.

I think a Transcranial Magnetic stimulation to the prefrontal cortex and the parietal lobe would help the experimenter to understand how we process attention and may offer explanations pertinent in the realm of how we perceive and do tasks. I think it would have yielded better results to have a group that attempted and were willing to do the TMS and see how their answers changed or if they were able to do the tasks with the particular brain area put on pause. The previous groundwork in the article didn’t think of this procedure. Multitasking and the like can be complex, it is truly jaw-dropping that it accelerates our motivating forces! Technology has come a long way, multitasking is a major thing in our lives! We may do multiple things at once now, compared to before such advancements. Doing a plethora of tasks all at once makes for great strides in performance levels! I can conclude after finishing up the article that we, in fact, cannot multitask, but we think we can.

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Paper On The Illusion of Multitasking and Its positive effect. (2019, Dec 12). Retrieved from

Paper On The Illusion of Multitasking and Its positive effect
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