Magazine article USA TODAY

Some Multitasking More Dangerous Than Others

Magazine article USA TODAY

Some Multitasking More Dangerous Than Others

Article excerpt

People are better at some types of multitasking than they are at others, according to a study from Ohio State University, Columbus, that has implications for distracted drivers. Attempting to do two visual tasks at once hurts performance in both tasks significantly more than combining a visual and an audio task.

Alarmingly, though, people who try to do two visual tasks at the same time rate their performance as better than do those who combine a visual and an audio task--even though their actual performance is worse.

"Many people have this overconfidence in how well they can multitask," points out Zheng Wang, lead author and assistant professor of communication. "People's perception about how well they're doing doesn't match up with how they actually perform."

Eye-tracking technology shows that people's gaze moves around much more when they have a pair of visual tasks compared to a visual and an audio task, and they spend much less time fixated on any one task. That suggests distracted visual attention. People who try to text while driving are combining two mostly visual tasks. Individuals who talk on a phone while driving are combining a visual and an audio task. …

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