I recently came across this study recently that really drove home how totally bogus multitasking in people is. It turns out that people that tell you they are good at multitasking, are actually worse at it then people that tell you they aren’t. Also, people that think they are good at multitasking, are worse at accomplishing anything, multitask, single task, anything, then people that don’t think they are good at it.
It turns out the one skill people that “are good at multitasking” have, is to delude themselves that they are productive. 🙂
Puzzled but not yet stumped on why the heavy multitaskers weren’t
performing well, the researchers conducted a third test. If the heavy
multitaskers couldn’t filter out irrelevant information or organize
their memories, perhaps they excelled at switching from one thing to
another faster and better than anyone else.
Wrong again, the study found.
The test subjects were shown images of letters and numbers at the
same time and instructed what to focus on. When they were told to pay
attention to numbers, they had to determine if the digits were even or
odd. When told to concentrate on letters, they had to say whether they
were vowels or consonants.
Again, the heavy multitaskers underperformed the light multitaskers.
“They couldn’t help thinking about the task they weren’t doing,”
Ophir said. “The high multitaskers are always drawing from all the
information in front of them. They can’t keep things separate in their
The researchers are still studying whether chronic media
multitaskers are born with an inability to concentrate or are damaging
their cognitive control by willingly taking in so much at once. But
they’re convinced the minds of multitaskers are not working as well as
“When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of
information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory,
they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current
goal,” said Wagner, an associate professor of psychology. “That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”
The entire article can be read here.
One thought on “Anyone that thinks they are good at Multitasking, are bad at getting anything done”
I, for one, am really glad to see something like this. I’ve always felt like I was a lesser nerd due to my inability to heroically multitask. I mean, I can get all ADD with the best of them, but for me to actually be really productive on something I have to focus exclusively on it, even if that means staring at a compile for 30 seconds instead of trying to make that time “useful” by doing something else more complicated than skipping a song in Pandora.