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Men better multi-taskers than women: study

Men better multi-taskers than women: study

Published: 24 Oct 2012 13:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Oct 2012 13:13 GMT+02:00

Working mothers may have to juggle more tasks than their husbands, but the long-held belief that women are better than men at multi-tasking is a myth, according to new Swedish research.

"On the contrary, the results of our study show that men are better at multi-tasking than women," Timo Mäntylä, a psychology professor at Stockholm University, said.

Men are sometimes better than women at handling multiple tasks simultaneously, but the performance gap is correlated to the female menstrual cycle, according to his study, to be published in US peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science.

In line with previous research, men and women with good so-called working memory were also better than others at multi-tasking.

However, Mäntylä found that the ability to combine several different tasks at once was also linked to spatial ability which, for women, is linked to their menstrual phase.

"Previous studies have shown that women's spatial skills vary across the menstrual cycle with high capacity around menstruation and much lower around ovulation, when estrogen levels are high," he said.

"The results showed a clear difference in multi-tasking between men and women in the ovulation phase, while this effect was eliminated for women in the menstrual phase."

The participants, 160 men and women between 20 and 43 years of age, were instructed to keep track of three digital "clocks", or counters, that displayed different times at different speeds.

While registering certain times displayed by the clocks, defined by a simple set of rules, they also had to watch a scrolling ticker featuring common Swedish names, pressing the mouse button when one of the names was repeated.

Differences in spatial ability and working memory were based on separate tests.

AFP/The Local

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Your comments about this article

14:29 October 24, 2012 by JulieLou40
What an absolute pile of crap.
14:38 October 24, 2012 by Snood
a study of 160 people and they call this evidence? .... they must be new to science. Men aren't better than women at multi-tasking in the same way that women are better than men... some people are better at it than some other people....
09:16 October 25, 2012 by Dariyana
Such a nonsense!

My husband cant check football score on website (just checking 2 simple digits) and maintain conversation in the same time...and someone said something about men's multitasking? Really? :)
12:58 October 31, 2012 by cybernoid
Excellent example of what's wrong with most publicised statistics. People will never question sample size, geographical location, social status. Also age plays a tremendous role and is a strong link to cognitive ability. There's a significant base difference between a 20- and a 43-year old person. And indeed 160 people isn't even statistics.

Source: Life observations, with a strong will to understand people.
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