October 25, 2012
Men may multi-task better than women: Study
By Thane Burnett, QMI Agency
If you're doing something else as well as reading this, you may be a man.
A new study says women just aren't as good when it comes to multi-tasking.
The Swedish research contradicts the stand taken by most mothers that because they often juggle work duties and tend to children and pick up your stinky socks because you're too damn lazy to just put them where they belong Mr. Man, women are better equipped at doing a lot of things at once.
Not so says Timo Mantyla, a psychology professor at Stockholm University, who may rile some by suggesting a woman's menstrual cycle impacts their ability to do this as well as that and that other thing at the same time.
Mantyla's research, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, found being able to do several tasks at once -- especially counting on spatial skills where you mentally manipulate objects in a three dimensional world -- vary across a woman's menstrual cycle.
"Women in the luteal phase (later phase of their cycle) performed worse than women in the menstrual phase and men," Mantyla told QMI Agency from his office in Stockholm.
He adds that the differences are apparent in multi-tasking, keeping track of several changing jobs at once, rather than dual-tasking, such as driving and talking on the phone. That was his example and not ours.
His theory is that abilities are hindered during ovulation, when estrogen levels are high. But he cautioned the effects: "Should not be reduced to variations in estrogen hormone levels."
Testing was done on 160 men and women between 20 and 43 years old, but in a previously unpublished study, he says he replicated the results with postmenopausal women.
"This study suggests that hormonal changes contribute to gender differences in multi-tasking but they are not the whole story," Mantyla adds.
And yes, the researcher notes, whether it's men or women, young people multi-task better than their elders.