Multitasking and Human Performance

David L. Strayer, Nathan Medeiros-Ward & Joel M. Cooper

In: Encyclopedia of the Mind

Multitasking and Human Performance

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  • The pace of modern life places a higher demand on the ability to multitask than at any time in human history. Indeed, today's lifestyle often requires people to manage several concurrent activities and to deal with constant interruptions to ongoing tasks (e.g., ringing phones, e-mail alerts, instant messaging, etc.). Multitasking refers to the concurrent performance of two or more tasks, where each task can be defined as an activity with distinct goals, processes, and representations. For example, it is not uncommon for operators of a motor vehicle to talk on a cell phone or interact with a variety of other electronic devices while driving. In this example, the cognitive operations associated with driving a vehicle (e.g., navigating, maintaining speed and lane position, reacting to both ...

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