Welcome! You're about to take a test on Lab in the Wild.
How well can you multitask? Can you do a computer task and an unrelated thinking task at the same time? What happens then? Will the thinking task cause you to slow down on the computer task? Will the computer task cause you to make mistakes on the thinking task? Or will you focus and do both better?
Find out for yourself and compare your performance to others! Complete a few simple computer tasks while also trying to hold information in your short term memory and see what happens to your performance.
The test typically takes 10 minutes to complete.
people have completed this experiment so far.
This study requires a laptop or a tablet. It will not work on a phone. The test may also not work properly on older versions of Internet Explorer. We apologize for not being able to support all browsers.
Please read the following information carefully before proceeding.
Why we are doing this research: We are trying to understand how multitasking affects the use of complex user interfaces.
What you will have to do: You will be asked to perform several sets of menu selection tasks. Prior to some of them, you will be shown a set of symbols, and we will ask you to memorize and later recall those symbols. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary, and you may refuse to participate or withdraw from the study without penalty or loss of benefits to which you may otherwise be entitled.
Potential risks: There are no risks anticipated in taking part in this study and you are free to leave at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled.
Privacy: Your responses will be kept anonymous. We do not collect any information that could be used to directly establish your identity.
Duration: Approximately 10 minutes.
To contact the researcher: If you have questions or concerns about this research, please contact Prof. Krzysztof Gajos, Maxwell Dworkin 251, 33 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whom to contact about your rights in this research, for questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints that are not being addressed by the researcher, or research-related harm: Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research at Harvard University, 1414 Massachusetts Avenue, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138.Phone: 617-496-2847 (CUHS). Email: email@example.com
Please print or save a copy of this page for your records.
By clicking the "I agree" button you confirm that you have read and understood the above and agree to take part in this research. Your participation is voluntary and you are free to leave the experiment at any time by simply closing the web browser.
We have a few more (optional) questions for you.
Some psychologists hypothesize that there are links between personality traits and multitasking. This is why we have added these extra questions. They are optional, but if you are willing to answer them, it will help us a lot!
Your computer task will be to perform a set of menu selections as quickly and as accurately as possible.
The instructions below show how it's going to work. Please go through them to proceed to a practice task.
Some of the time, you will be asked to keep a set of symbols in memory while doing the menu selection task. As far as our minds are concerned, keeping a large number of items in our short term memory is almost the same as doing any other complex mental task.
The instructions below show how it's going to work. Go through them to proceed to a practice task.
Get started with the real thing as soon as you are ready!
Remember, your goal is to proceed through the task as quickly and as accurately as possible.
There will be a total of sections to complete. You will have a chance to take a break between sections.
Take a break, if you want to.
What makes mental arithmetic mentally taxing, is not all the adding and multiplying we have to do, but the number of things we have to keep in our mind at the same time to make it happen. When psychologists talk about cognitive load, they really mean the amount of stuff we have to keep in our short term memory. The capacity of human short term memory is the main factor that limits human problem solving abilities.
Psychologists say that the information we put in our short term memory is divided into "chunks". How is that for a technical term?
We cannot really change the number of chunks that our short term memory can store:( However, we can increase the size of the chunks that we can store! This is what learning is all about.
For example, for a child who is just beginning to read, each letter is a separate chunk. To read the word "bread," she needs to put each letter (or sound) as a separate chunk in her short term memory and eventually connect them into a word. For her, it is a very demanding task. For you, each word (or even phrase or a sentence) is a single chunk. You no longer think about individual letters. Instead, you can focus on the meaning of an entire sentence. Learning a new skill, be it reading, physics, or the grammar of a foreign language, is about helping our mind think in bigger and bigger chunks.
You can write them down in any order
Select one or two emotions that best describe how you are feeling (optional).
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Speed: On average, you took seconds to find and select an item. Other participants needed seconds on average.
More interestingly, however,
Memory: On average, you made mistake(s) when remembering memorized symbols. Other people made mistakes on average.
Attention on the clicking task: We also measured how much attention you paid to the clicking task (sorry, we cannot tell you how we did it right now because we do not want others to game the test). On average, other participants had the highest attention scores when they had to remember 2 symbols and lowest when they had to remember 6 symbols.
As you can see in the graph below, people do best on the clicking task when their mind is occupied just a little and they do less well when their minds are completely bored or very busy.
When computing your results, we excluded the first three clicks in each part (we assume you were just warming up). We also excluded any clicks where it took you longer than 7 seconds to respond (we assume you got distracted there).
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