We zijn niet goed in multitasken (het is een van de mythes in ons boek). Als je het dan doet, doe je dingen vaak trager en minder goed (dus studenten die nu aan het blokken gaan, niet doen!). Maar een nieuwe studie toont dat het niet helemaal kommer en kwel is.
Want in 1 situatie kan het wel degelijk een meerwaarde betekenen, namelijk bij opdrachten waar je beter op automatische piloot werkt of waar je weinig moet bij nadenken (dus bvb niet studeren, autorijden,…). Dit besluit men uit 2 experimenten:
“The study is supported by the findings of two experiments conducted at the University of Basel. The first study exposed 90 participants to variable cognitive loads as they were asked to solve a judgment task whose solution was best achieved through the use of a similarity-based strategy (predicting how many cartoon characters another cartoon character could catch). Most participants switched to using a similarity-based strategy and produced more accurate judgments. The second study then exposed 60 participants to a linear task whose solution was not conducive to similarity-based strategies but rather rule- based strategies. Those participants who employed a similarity-based strategy made poorer judgments. The experiments were conducted with financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation.” (bron)
Abstract van de studie:
Multitasking poses a major challenge in modern work environments by putting the worker under cognitive load. Performance decrements often occur when people are under high cognitive load because they switch to less demanding—and often less accurate—cognitive strategies. Although cognitive load disturbs performance over a wide range of tasks, it may also carry benefits. In the experiments reported here, we showed that judgment performance can increase under cognitive load. Participants solved a multiple-cue judgment task in which high performance could be achieved by using a similarity-based judgment strategy but not by using a more demanding rule-based judgment strategy. Accordingly, cognitive load induced a shift to a similarity-based judgment strategy, which consequently led to more accurate judgments. By contrast, shifting to a similarity-based strategy harmed judgments in a task best solved by using a rule-based strategy. These results show how important it is to consider the cognitive strategies people rely on to understand how people perform in demanding work environments.