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Multitasking

Cees Koolstra


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Multitasking may be defined as the performance of two or more →  information -processing activities simultaneously. The term originated in computer science as a description of a central processor performing two or more tasks at the same time. In the context of communication and media studies, multitasking is the term used for the situation in which an individual is using a → medium while doing one or more other information-processing tasks at the same time. If multitasking pertains to using two or more media simultaneously, for example the combination of watching →  Television and reading the →  Newspaper , one can speak of “media multitasking” (e.g., Foehr 2006 ) or simultaneous use of (multiple) media. Although most people are used to doing more than one thing at a time, the term “multitasking” generally applies only to combinations of information-processing activities, with the (unspoken) assumptions that (1) combining non-information-processing tasks, such as smoking a cigarette while washing the dishes, is easy, whereas (2) combining information-processing tasks, such as doing homework while watching TV, is more difficult, and information might get lost. The second assumption is based on the “limited capacity” information-processing model (e.g., Basil 1994 ; Kahneman 1973 ; Lang 2000 ; →  Limited Capacity Model ). This model holds that people are continuously busy with ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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