Gender Invariance in Multitasking: A Comment on Mäntylä (2013)

  • Strayer D
  • Medeiros-Ward N
  • Watson J
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Comments on an article by T. Mantyla (see record 2013-13680-015). Mantyla compared men and women who concurrently performed a counter-monitoring task and an n-back task and concluded that gender differences in multitasking reflect spatial ability. Mantyla do not, in fact, provide clear and unambiguous evidence for gender differences in multitasking, and that individual differences in the ability to multitask are more likely associated with executive attention. First, in previous work, we examined individual differences in the ability to concurrently operate a motor vehicle and talk on a cell phone, a multitasking activity engaged in by the majority of drivers on the roadway. Second, Mantyla reported (a) that there were gender differences favoring males in both multitasking and baseline spatial ability and (b) that measures of both spatial ability and executive function were independent predictors of ability to multitask. Further analysis conducted by the author revealed that these gender differences in multitasking were fully mediated by spatial ability. In conclusion, Mantyla's report of gender differences in multitasking ought to be taken with caution. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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  • David L. Strayer

  • Nathan Medeiros-Ward

  • Jason M. Watson

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