Monday, June 28, 2010

Are Most People Good at Multitasking?

Many people think they are good multitaskers, but are they really?  Actually, no.  Several studies have demonstrated that it is very difficult or impossible for most people to do two or more things at once very well, even if they think they are doing fine.

In a recent study, 200 volunteers were asked to drive in a driving simulator and concentrated on information given to them on a cell phone at the same time.  The majority of the participants did poorly on both tasks.  they were 20% slower to hit the brakes and also performed worse in responding to the information given to them over the phone.

However, the researchers uncovered a surprising discovery:  1 in 40 excelled at performing both tasks at the same time.  That's right, a whopping 2.5% of adults seem to be good at multitasking.  The author of the study, David Strayer, called these folks "supertaskers."  These supertaskers seem to be able to take on two or more things at once and do really well on them.

It's not clear if this is a skill that has only recently developed in human brains, thanks to the demands of our ever-increasing tech-culture, or if it is something that some people's brains just naturally have the ability to do.  Either way, it's still a rare skill.  You might be a supertasker, but it's a safe bet to say that the odds are against you.