A well known effect of multitasking is that if you have to switch to do another one, then your performance of both will decrease, in compared to the performance when you do them separately.

FYI: TEDxSanJoseCA - Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD - Brain: Memory and Multitasking

However, in my experience, it seems to me that the headache in the prefrontal cortex made by the interruption is lesser when the person doing the multitask receive necessary information via another person, not by looking up by themselves.

For example, I imagine an experiment in which when the participants are focusing to do task A, then they are interrupted and need to do task B. In order to do task B, they need to find a necessary piece of information. Group 1 of participants have to find it by themselves (e.g. google it). Group 2 can find it by asking a staff. Let the number of questions need to be asked, and the time to gather information be the same in both groups. After finishing task B they need to return to task A to finish. Which group has better performance in both task?

Is there any source about this? I search in Google Scholar with the query multitasking social interaction performance, but the results mostly about interruption during social interaction, or interruption via social media.

FYI: How does stopping reading to lookup the definition of an unknown word affect the comprehension in general?

  • $\begingroup$ How would you measure task performance on task B? Is task B finding that information, i.e., at the whim of Google or the person you ask, or that is just an unrelated prerequisite to start task B? $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ Judging by the language used here, I think you should search for research on "sequential multitasking". I outlined some short findings here which may be a starting point: psychology.stackexchange.com/a/18225/21 $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ yes it's indeed sequential multitasking. For example, task A may be to understand an article, and task B is to understand an unknown concept of that article. So in order to understand that concept, you first need to ask what it is. Then in the given definition you meet another unknown concept, and then you need to ask what it is. That goes on a couple times until there is no new concept to you. This is what basically happens in language learning. To measure the performance of task B one can have a quiz later to know how much the subjects understand the concept $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    2 days ago

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