There is a widespread stereotype that women are better at multitasking. Previous studies examining gender difference in multitasking used either a concurrent or sequential multitasking paradigm and offered mixed results. This study examined a possibility that men were better at concurrent multitasking while women were better at task switching. In addition, men and women were also compared in terms of multitasking experience, measured by a computer monitoring software, a self-reported Media Use Questionnaire, a laboratory task-switching paradigm, and a self-reported Multitasking Prevalence Inventory. Results showed a smaller concurrent multitasking (dual-task) cost for men than women and no gender difference in sequential multitasking (task-switching) cost. Men had more experience in multitasking involving video games while women were more experienced in multitasking involving music, instant messaging, and web surfing. The gender difference in dual-task performance, however, was not mediated by the gender differences in multitasking experience but completely explained by difference in the processing speed. The findings suggest that men have an advantage in concurrent multitasking, which may be a result of the individual differences in cognitive abilities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was funded by the General Research Fund (grant no. 14645416) from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong to A.C.-N.W.
- dual-task performance
- Gender difference
- task switching