Individual Difference Variables as Predictors of Error during Multitasking
Technical note 1 Feb-31 May 2007
NAVY PERSONNEL RESEARCH STUDIES AND TECHNOLOGY MILLINGTON TN
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Multitasking MT performance requires performing multiple tasks, appropriately shifting attention and prioritizing them. Successful multitaskers focus their attention on the task where attention is most needed at the moment, and they adapt to changes in task priority as they occur. It is this latter feature of multitasking that suggests a natural relationship with adaptive performance the capability to adapt to changing task priorities is essential for effective complex task performance, and failure to do so is likely to result in performance errors. As a result of frequent or unclear priority shifts, errors in multitasking performance can be common. The primary focus of the current study is on types of performance errors committed during MT performance, namely errors of commission i.e., addressing a task demand incorrectly and errors of omission i.e., allowing a task demand to lapse. Empirically, the present study examines MT performance on SynWin, a computerized multitasking work environment. Researchers investigated predictors of errors and rate of error-making within a structural model that included a complement of cognitive variables e.g., working memory, perceptual speed and non-cognitive variables e.g., state anxiety, personality. Results indicated that working memory and state anxiety predicted errors of commission, and perceptual speed and state anxiety predicted errors of omission.
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