Skills needed by multi-taskers

Brown (1998) investigated the concept of “time-sharing” proposed in earlier work on multi-tasking by Fogarty (1982) . Fogarty (1982) describes time-sharing as a factor that emerges when two tasks are undertaken simultaneously. This sharing of time between the tasks is the extra factor over and above those associated with performing each of the tasks in isolation.

In Brown’s paper two experiments were undertaken, one that involved completing a single task (manual tracking) and one dual tasks (manual tracking and a timing task). The following outcomes were found:

– An interference effect. Doing two tasks at the same time disrupted the speed of the timing task and made it more variable.

– A relationship between practice and interference. Practice on the tracking task under single-task conditions reduced the interference effect in timing. However, practice on the dual-task test was not successful at minimising the interference effect.

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