Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway have recently “defeated” the age-old debate and they revealed that according to their study, there’s barely any difference between the capabilities of both sexes, and both are as bad as each other.
Harvard Business Review’s post discussed that the confusion over whether males or females can multitask more effectively is often the result of researchers using different definitions of “multitasking”.
“We developed a computerised task – The Meeting Preparation Task (CMPT) – that was designed to resemble everyday life activities and, at the same time, that was grounded in the most comprehensive theoretical model of multitasking activities.” – the scientists explained.
As it turns out, the model was put forward by Paul Burgess, University College London professor who was more helpful in defining the terms.
“He defines two types of multitasking – concurrent multitasking, in which you do two or more activities at the same time (talking on the phone while driving) and serial multitasking, in which you switch rapidly between tasks (preparing your next meeting and answering an email, being interrupted by a colleague, checking Twitter).
It’s this latter type of multitasking that most of us do most often, and this type of multitasking we wanted to test.” – the paper continues.
The study sounds like a nightmare for any disorganized person, and it was conducted using 82 men and 66 women aged 18-60. It placed participants in a three-room space, and they were required to prepare for a meeting while dealing with issues such as missing chairs and incoming phone calls at the same time.
The scientists were comparing how each group performed, and there were several factors included as well. For example, whether the task was done accurately, how long it took for the participants to do it, and how and if they managed the distracting events.
They wrote that they found absolutely no difference between men and women in terms of serial multitasking abilities. In the end, they noted that they cannot completely exclude the possibility that there are no differences between males and females in serial multitasking abilities, but such differences are likely to be very small, if they exist.