Efficient multitasking: parallel versus serial processing of multiple tasks
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CitationFischer, Rico, and Franziska Plessow. 2015. “Efficient multitasking: parallel versus serial processing of multiple tasks.” Frontiers in Psychology 6 (1): 1366. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01366. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01366.
AbstractIn the context of performance optimizations in multitasking, a central debate has unfolded in multitasking research around whether cognitive processes related to different tasks proceed only sequentially (one at a time), or can operate in parallel (simultaneously). This review features a discussion of theoretical considerations and empirical evidence regarding parallel versus serial task processing in multitasking. In addition, we highlight how methodological differences and theoretical conceptions determine the extent to which parallel processing in multitasking can be detected, to guide their employment in future research. Parallel and serial processing of multiple tasks are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, questions focusing exclusively on either task-processing mode are too simplified. We review empirical evidence and demonstrate that shifting between more parallel and more serial task processing critically depends on the conditions under which multiple tasks are performed. We conclude that efficient multitasking is reflected by the ability of individuals to adjust multitasking performance to environmental demands by flexibly shifting between different processing strategies of multiple task-component scheduling.
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