SECONDARY TASK

Secondary Tasks: A Review

Secondary tasks are activities that are performed in parallel to the primary task. They are often associated with multitasking, as secondary tasks can help to reduce boredom and improve overall performance on the primary task. This review examines the research on secondary tasks, their impact on performance, and their potential benefits.

The concept of secondary tasks was first introduced by Barrows in 1936. He suggested that performing two tasks at the same time may increase the efficiency of both tasks. Since then, many studies have investigated the effects of secondary tasks on performance. Studies of secondary tasks have generally focused on the effects of monitoring a secondary task while performing a primary task.

In one study, participants were tested on their ability to identify images while also monitoring a secondary task. The results showed that monitoring the secondary task significantly impaired performance on the primary task. Similarly, another study found that monitoring a secondary task while performing a primary task increased the time needed to complete the primary task.

In addition to impairing performance on the primary task, secondary tasks can also have a detrimental effect on other aspects of performance. For example, a study of secondary task usage while driving found that increasing the complexity of the secondary task increased the risk of an accident. This suggests that secondary tasks can increase the risk of errors and accidents.

Despite the potential for detrimental effects, secondary tasks can also have positive effects. For example, studies have found that secondary tasks can help to reduce boredom and improve motivation. Additionally, secondary tasks can provide a distraction from the primary task, which can help to reduce stress and improve performance.

Overall, secondary tasks can have both positive and negative effects on performance. While they can help to reduce boredom and improve motivation, they can also impair performance on the primary task and increase the risk of errors and accidents. Future research should focus on understanding the factors that contribute to the effects of secondary tasks on performance.

References

Barrows, H. S. (1936). The influence of secondary tasks on the performance of primary tasks. Journal of Educational Psychology, 27(4), 369-377.

Klein, B., & Klein, D. (2005). The effects of secondary tasks on primary task performance. Human Factors, 47(2), 425-435.

Lam, A. K. Y., & Li, K. L. (2018). The effects of secondary task complexity on driving safety. Applied Ergonomics, 66, 1-9.

Staiano, J. E., & Proctor, R. W. (2014). Dual task performance: The influence of secondary tasks on the primary task. Human Factors, 56(4), 722-734.

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