Putting a stereotype to the test : the case of gender differences in multitasking costs in task-switching and dual-task situations

  • According to a popular stereotype, women are better at multitasking than men, but empirical evidence for gender differences in multitasking performance is mixed. Previous work has focused on specific aspects of multitasking or has not considered gender differences in abilities contributing to multitasking performance. We therefore tested gender differences (N = 96, 50% female) in sequential (i.e., task switching) and concurrent (i.e., dual tasking) multitasking, while controlling for possible gender differences in working memory, processing speed, spatial abilities, and fluid intelligence. Applying two standard experimental paradigms allowed us to test multitasking abilities across five different empirical indices (i.e., performance costs) for both reaction time (RT) and accuracy measures, respectively. Multitasking resulted in substantial performance costs across all experimental conditions without a single significant gender difference in any of these ten measures, even when controlling for gender differences in underlying cognitive abilities. Thus, our results do not confirm the widespread stereotype that women are better at multitasking than men at least in the popular sequential and concurrent multitasking settings used in the present study.

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Author:Patricia Hirsch, Iring Koch, Julia Karbach
Pubmed Id:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31412048
Parent Title (English):PLoS one
Place of publication:Lawrence, Kan.
Contributor(s):Sam Gilbert
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2019
Date of first Publication:2019/08/14
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/08/15
Tag:Attention; Cognition; Cognitive psychology; Intelligence; Intelligence tests; Mental health and psychiatry; Reaction time; Working memory
Issue:(8): e0220150
Page Number:16
First Page:1
Last Page:16
Copyright: © 2019 Hirsch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0