Performance on secondary tasks next to a primary task is sometimes used to assess mental workload (Ogden, Levine and Eisner, 1979). For example, the Stroop test as a secondary task has been evaluated by Gwizdka (2010).

However, a lot of effort goes into setting up these tasks, so I was wondering whether there are any open, ready-made task sets available which would be suitable for this purpose.

Some desirable characteristics I am looking for:

  • One task shouldn't be considerably harder than another.
  • Performing one task shouldn't take considerably longer than another.
  • Overall, one task shouldn't take too long, so the amount of tasks done can also be used as a measurement of mental workload.

Ogden, G. D., Levine, J. M., & Eisner, E. J. (1979). Measurement of workload by secondary tasks. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 21(5), 529-548.
Gwizdka, J. (2010, August). Using stroop task to assess cognitive load. In Proceedings of the 28th Annual European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics (pp. 219-222). ACM.


1 Answer 1


Since you mentioned the Stroop specifically, several versions of the Stroop task are available for Inquisit here.

Randall Engle's lab also maintains a set of validated working memory tasks, which are available on request to researchers. They include full and shortened versions of operation-, symmetry-, reading- and rotation-span for E-Prime 2.0.

Assuming I read the question correctly, any of these should satisfy the requirements.

  • $\begingroup$ Would I be able to easily run Inquisit side-by-side with the primary task, just to trigger the secondary tasks? I would prefer having control over how to show the tasks for minimal intrusion into the actual work environment of the user. Same question for E-prime. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    May 8, 2015 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris Hard to say without knowing your setup. Inquisit has a 30-day trial version you can download, though, so I suppose you could quickly find out. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ If not I can still just export the particular tasks I suppose, possibly manually (if that would be allowed). $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    May 8, 2015 at 8:57

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