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Gender Differences in Multitasking Reflect Spatial Ability
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2013 (English)In: Psychological Science, ISSN 0956-7976, E-ISSN 1467-9280, Vol. 24, no 4, 514-520 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Demands involving the scheduling and interleaving of multiple activities have become increasingly prevalent, especially for women in both their paid and unpaid work hours. Despite the ubiquity of everyday requirements to multitask, individual and gender-related differences in multitasking have gained minimal attention in past research. In two experiments, participants completed a multitasking session with four gender-fair monitoring tasks and separate tasks measuring executive functioning (working memory updating) and spatial ability (mental rotation). In both experiments, males outperformed females in monitoring accuracy. Individual differences in executive functioning and spatial ability were independent predictors of monitoring accuracy, but only spatial ability mediated gender differences in multitasking. Menstrual changes accentuated these effects, such that gender differences in multitasking (and spatial ability) were eliminated between males and females who were in the menstrual phase of the menstrual cycle but not between males and females who were in the luteal phase. These findings suggest that multitasking involves spatiotemporal task coordination and that gender differences in multiple-task performance reflect differences in spatial ability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 24, no 4, 514-520 p.
Keyword [en]
cognitive processes, sex differences, visuospatial ability, divided attention
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-91312DOI: 10.1177/0956797612459660ISI: 000318853800015OAI: diva2:633322


Available from: 2013-06-26 Created: 2013-06-24 Last updated: 2013-06-26Bibliographically approved

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Mäntylä, Timo
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