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Cognition. 2012 May;123(2):303-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.11.015. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

Deep thinking increases task-set shielding and reduces shifting flexibility in dual-task performance.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Technische Universitaet Dresden, D-01062 Dresden, Germany.


Performing two tasks concurrently is difficult, which has been taken to imply the existence of a structural processing bottleneck. Here we sought to assess whether and to what degree one's multitasking abilities depend on the cognitive-control style one engages in. Participants were primed with creativity tasks that either called for divergent thinking-which were suspected to induce a holistic, flexible task processing mode, or convergent thinking-which were assumed to induce a systematic, focused processing mode. Participants showed reduced cross-talk between tasks and increased task-component switching costs (dual-task costs) for the convergent-thinking group compared to both, a divergent-thinking group and a neutral control group. The results suggest that the cognitive-control style people engage in prior to the task predicts their multitasking performance.

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