Global difficulty modulates the prioritization strategy in multitasking situations

Abstract : There has been a considerable amount of research to conceptualize how cognition handle multitasking situations. Despite these efforts, it is still not clear how task parameters shape attentionnal resources allocation. For instance, many research have suggested that difficulty levels could explain these conflicting observations and very few have considered other factors such as task importance. In the present study, twenty participants had to carry out two N-Back tasks simultaneously, each subtask having distinct difficulty (0,1 or 2-Back) and importance (1 or 3 points) levels. Participants's cumulative dwell time were collected to assess their attentional strategies. Results showed that depending on the global level of difficulty (combination of the two levels of difficulty), attentional resources of people were driven either by the subtask difficulty (under low-global-difficulty) or the subtask importance (under high-global-difficulty), in a non-compensatory way. We discussed these results in terms of decision-making heuristics and metacognition.
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Benoit Valery, Nadine Matton, Sébastien Scannella, Frédéric Dehais. Global difficulty modulates the prioritization strategy in multitasking situations. Applied Ergonomics, Elsevier, 2019, 80, pp.1-8. ⟨10.1016/j.apergo.2019.04.012⟩. ⟨hal-02128527⟩

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