Deadlines in space: Selective effects of coordinate spatial processing in multitasking
2015 (English)In: Memory & Cognition, ISSN 0090-502X, E-ISSN 1532-5946, Vol. 43, no 8, 1216-1228 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Many everyday activities require coordination and monitoring of multiple deadlines. One way to handle these temporal demands might be to represent future goals and deadlines as a pattern of spatial relations. We examined the hypothesis that spatial ability, in addition to executive functioning, contributes to individual differences in multitasking. In two studies, participants completed a multitasking session in which they monitored four digital clocks running at different rates. In Study 1, we found that individual differences in spatial ability and executive functions were independent predictors of multiple-task performance. In Study 2, we found that individual differences in specific spatial abilities were selectively related to multiple-task performance, as only coordinate spatial processing, but not categorical, predicted multitasking, even beyond executive functioning and numeracy. In both studies, males outperformed females in spatial ability and multitasking and in Study 2 these sex differences generalized to a simulation of everyday multitasking. Menstrual changes moderated the effects on multitasking, in that sex differences in coordinate spatial processing and multitasking were observed between males and females in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, but not between males and females at menses. Overall, these findings suggest that multiple-task performance reflects independent contributions of spatial ability and executive functioning. Furthermore, our results support the distinction of categorical versus coordinate spatial processing, and suggest that these two basic relational processes are selectively affected by female sex hormones and differentially effective in transforming and handling temporal patterns as spatial relations in the context of multitasking.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 43, no 8, 1216-1228 p.
individual differences, multitasking, spatial ability, sex differences, coordinate processing
Research subject Psychology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-122719DOI: 10.3758/s13421-015-0529-zISI: 000364133600008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-122719DiVA: diva2:868317