Multitasking Ability and Intelligence

When dividing attention between two tasks (Multitasking), people need to find the most efficient ways of allocating their attentional or processing resources between the tasks. It is reasonable to presume that people with higher levels of intelligence will be better able to allocate their processing resources efficiently. This was investigated in a study by Ben-Shakhar and Sheffer. Read on to learn more about their findings and how RightPeople has used this information to help you make better choices during your recruitment process.

While completing cognitive (thinking) tasks, the amount of resources (e.g., attention, focus, working memory capacity) people have to devote to the task is limited. Cognitive tasks also differ in the amount of resources they require to be completed. Simpler tasks or tasks that have been practised over and over tend to consume few processing resources (e.g., typing for a skilled typist, computer games for teenagers!) whereas more abstract, unfamiliar and complex tasks will consume many processing resources.

Individual differences in the amount of available processing resources, and the ability to allocate them between tasks may therefore account for individual differences in intelligence.

This idea was explored by Ben-Shakhar and Sheffer (2001). The study involved 50 participants who performed both single tasks and multi (or competing) tasks composed of pairs of the single tasks. They found that performance on the multi-tasks could not be accounted for just by performance on the single tasks – ie there was an ability above and beyond performance on the single tasks that accounting for multitasking ability. They also found that dualt task performance was a better predictor of overall intelligence than single tasks.

Multitasking can therefore not only demonstrate how well a person can divide their attention and cope with increased task complexity, but is also a good measure of general intelligence.

RightPeople’s Multitasking test is a test of higher-level problem solving and involves dividing attention to solve two problems at the same time. Not only has this test been found to be a good predictor of management ability, but it will also give you a good idea of the person’s level of general intelligence, particularly fluid, non-verbal intelligence.

It can be combined into a package of tests, or used on its own as a great indicator of high level problem solving, management skill and intelligence. Contact us to find out more about this innovative test.