independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Women really are superior multi-taskers, say scientists

It's official – scientists have shown that women are better at multi-tasking than men.

The popular belief was tested by researchers who measured the ability of men and women to carry out multiple tasks. Both in the laboratory and real world situations, women came out top.

Although many people are convinced women are better than men at focusing on different jobs at once, very little research has tested this hypothesis.

In the first part of the study, 120 men and 120 women were tested on switching rapidly between two simple computer tasks.

Participants had to respond to geometrical objects shown on a screen by pressing a button on their right or left side. Response times were measured when they did one task at a time, or quickly switched between two tasks.

Both men and women slowed down when alternating between two tasks, but men became more sluggish. Their performance speed slowed by 77pc compared with 69pc for women.

In the "real world" test, a different group of 47 men and the same number of women faced three everyday challenges.

They were asked to sketch out how they would attempt a search for a set of lost keys in a field, to locate restaurants on a map, and to solve simple maths questions.

Volunteers were also told to expect a phone call during the test. If they chose to answer the phone, they had to answer general knowledge questions such as naming the capital of France.

They had eight minutes to complete as much of each task as possible.

Women taking part in the test developed far better strategies for finding the lost keys, said Professor Keith Laws, from the University of Hertfordshire.

"This one significant advantage for women on the key search task suggests that they may be superior at tasks requiring high-level cognitive control, particularly planning, monitoring and inhibition," he said.

DISORDERS

Lead researcher Dr Gijsbert Stoet, from the University of Glasgow's School of Psychology, said: "The study of sex differences in basic tests of mental functioning are incredibly important.

"It not just helps us to better understand about how gender differences might have emerged throughout our evolutionary past, but also to link this to the question of why boys and men suffer more from attentional disorders than women.

"While our results are interesting, they still represent only a very specific set of multi-tasking tasks which tested a limited area of cognitive ability. More research is required before we can draw any definite conclusions and provide explanations as to precisely why women appear from our evidence to be better multi-taskers."

The study is published in the online journal BMC Psychology.

Irish Independent

Also in this Section

Classifieds

CarsIreland

Independent Shopping.ie

Meet, chat and connect with
singles in your area

Independent Shopping.ie

Meet Singles Now

Findajob

Apps

Now available on

Independent.ie on Twitter

More

Most Read

Independent Gallery

Your photos

Send us your weather photos promo

Celebrity News