Communications Professor on Dangers of Multitasking
Zheng Wang, assistant professor of communication, is lead author of a new study demonstrating that trying to do two visual tasks at once hurts performance in both tasks significantly more than combining a visual and an audio task, like driving and talking on the phone.
Researchers had college students record all of their media use and other activities for 28 days, including why they used various media sources and what they got out of it. The findings showed that multitasking often gave the students an emotional boost, even when it hurt their cognitive functions, such as studying.
Eye-tracking technology used in the study showed that people's gaze moved around much more when they had two visual tasks compared to a visual and an audio task, and spent much less time fixated on any one task.
"They're both dangerous, but as both our behavioral performance data and eye tracking data suggest, texting is more dangerous to do while driving than talking on a phone, which is not a surprise," said Wang. "But what is surprising is that our results also suggest that people may perceive that texting is not more dangerous - they may think they can do a good job at two visual tasks at one time."
Read the press release, provided courtesy of Jeff Grabmeier, office of research communications, http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/multitask.htm