´┐╝Individual Differences in Multitasking

This research investigated the relationship between individual differences in cognitive ability and the ability to recover from interruptions during multitasking performance. The Abstract Decision Making (ADM) task was used to examine multitasking. This task required participants to sort multiple objects into bins while being unex- pectedly interrupted. Participants also completed a battery of cognitive measures from which two ability factors were extracted, referred to as general-ability and multiple-event-tracking. Performance was assessed using mea- sures of speed, errors, strategy consistency, and proportion of interruption resumption. The general-ability factor, which was correlated with working memory (WM), and the multiple-event-tracking factor affected both general ADM performance and interruption recovery differently. Moreover, consistent strategies were found to facilitate interruption recovery, an effect that was greater for lower general-ability individuals. The findings suggest that training individuals to use consistent strategies facilitates interruption recovery by alleviating WM load when interrupted, especially for low ability individuals.