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Multi-taskers can't actually multi-task, says study


Those who think they're good at multi-tasking are probably not a new study at the University of Utah has found.


Stan Honda

A new study has shown that those who think they are good at multi-tasking, probably aren't.

Researchers at the University of Utah found that the better people say they are at doing many tasks at once, the worse they perform those tasks.

“If you have people who are multi-tasking a lot, you might come to the conclusion they are good at multi-tasking,” said study co-author David Strayer, according to the Telegraph.

“In fact, the more likely they are to do it, the more likely they are to be bad at it.”

The study, which used 310 undergraduates, found that about 70 percent of them considered themselves good at multi-tasking.

“The people who multi-task the most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multi-tasking,” said Strayer, reported Red Orbit.

The students were asked to perform what is known as Operation Span, or OSPAN.

The test includes two tasks: one testing memorization and the other math skills.

They were also asked to rate their own ability to multi-task.

The conclusion was that multi-tasking was much harder than one thinks and those who rated themselves bad at it actually did better on the tests, as they focused on one thing at a time.

Though the test only looked at a small number of situations, researchers believe the data could be applied to talking while driving or tasks at work, said the Globe and Mail.

The study was published in the journal PloS One.