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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54402. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054402. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Who multi-tasks and why? Multi-tasking ability, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America.

Abstract

The present study examined the relationship between personality and individual differences in multi-tasking ability. Participants enrolled at the University of Utah completed measures of multi-tasking activity, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. In addition, they performed the Operation Span in order to assess their executive control and actual multi-tasking ability. The findings indicate that the persons who are most capable of multi-tasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. To the contrary, multi-tasking activity as measured by the Media Multitasking Inventory and self-reported cell phone usage while driving were negatively correlated with actual multi-tasking ability. Multi-tasking was positively correlated with participants' perceived ability to multi-task ability which was found to be significantly inflated. Participants with a strong approach orientation and a weak avoidance orientation--high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking--reported greater multi-tasking behavior. Finally, the findings suggest that people often engage in multi-tasking because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task. Participants with less executive control--low scorers on the Operation Span task and persons high in impulsivity--tended to report higher levels of multi-tasking activity.

PMID:
23372720
PMCID:
PMC3553130
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0054402
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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