WE all know people who think they are good at multi-tasking. But the truth may be that they simply find it hard to do one thing at a time.
Researchers say that multi-taskers end up juggling activities not because they are good at it, but because they are easily distracted and cannot concentrate on the job at hand. By contrast, the most efficient multi-tasker is the person least likely to do so because they can focusing on one thing at a time.
A team from the University of Utah subjected volunteers to tests to measure their actual multi-tasking ability against their imagined ability.
"The people who are most likely to multi-task harbour the illusion they are better than average at it, when in fact they are often worse," said Professor David Strayer, senior author of the study.
"If you have people multi-tasking a lot, you might come to the conclusion that they are good at multi-tasking. In fact, the more likely they are to do it, the more likely they are to be bad at it."
The paper, published in the Public Library of Science, added that people who talked on mobile phones while driving tended to be least able to multi-task well. (© Daily Telegraph, London)