Effects of Multitasking on Human Performance


Multitasking is an integral part of human behavior. As technology advances, multitasking is commonly observed as users interact with systems. This paper summarizes the existing literature on this topic and examines the relationship between task characteristics and multi-tasking performance. Specifically, we are interested in examining whether mental workload increases as task difficulty in multitasking increases, whether there is any performance decrease in multitasking as mental workload increases, and whether users perform better in between-channel multitasking than within-channel multitasking. To address these research questions, we conducted a lab experiment using eye-tracking equipment. Twenty users were asked to perform two tasks simultaneously, with varying difficulty levels. One task was performed on eye-tracker controlled software and the other was using a reaction timer. User's eye movements, as well as time and accuracy for respond to both tasks were captured and analyzed. Both visual and auditory tasks were considered. The results supported our hypotheses.

Meeting Name

31st Annual National Conference of the American Society for Engineering Management (2010: Oct. 13-16, Fayetteville, AR)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Second Department

Psychological Science

Third Department

Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

Auditory tasks; Human behaviors; Human factors; Human performance; Mental workload; Research questions; Task characteristics; Task difficulty; Technology advances; Eye movements; Human engineering; Multitasking

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2010 American Society for Engineering Management, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

16 Oct 2010

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