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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.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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