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30-10-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2018

Psychological Research 1/2018

Multitasking as a choice: a perspective

Psychological Research > Uitgave 1/2018
Laura Broeker, Roman Liepelt, Edita Poljac, Stefan Künzell, Harald Ewolds, Rita F. de Oliveira, Markus Raab
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Laura Broeker and Markus Raab contributed equally to this work.


Performance decrements in multitasking have been explained by limitations in cognitive capacity, either modelled as static structural bottlenecks or as the scarcity of overall cognitive resources that prevent humans, or at least restrict them, from processing two tasks at the same time. However, recent research has shown that individual differences, flexible resource allocation, and prioritization of tasks cannot be fully explained by these accounts. We argue that understanding human multitasking as a choice and examining multitasking performance from the perspective of judgment and decision-making (JDM), may complement current dual-task theories. We outline two prominent theories from the area of JDM, namely Simple Heuristics and the Decision Field Theory, and adapt these theories to multitasking research. Here, we explain how computational modelling techniques and decision-making parameters used in JDM may provide a benefit to understanding multitasking costs and argue that these techniques and parameters have the potential to predict multitasking behavior in general, and also individual differences in behavior. Finally, we present the one-reason choice metaphor to explain a flexible use of limited capacity as well as changes in serial and parallel task processing. Based on this newly combined approach, we outline a concrete interdisciplinary future research program that we think will help to further develop multitasking research.

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