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Exploring individual differences in task switching

Li, Bingxin and Li, Xiangqian and Stoet, Gijsbert and Lages, Martin (2019) 'Exploring individual differences in task switching.' Acta Psychologica, 193. 80 - 95. ISSN 0001-6918

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that there are significant task-switching costs even when participants have time to prepare for task switching after cueing. We investigated individual differences in task switching by monitoring errors and response times of individual participants. In Experiment 1A, 58 participants were encouraged to finish the session early by completing 200 consecutive trials without making an error. In case of a mistake, they had to repeat their effort until the experimental session expired. Using this demanding procedure, 16 participants managed to complete early. Among these 16 we identified 9 best performers who showed no significant switch costs. We conducted follow-up Experiment 1B on these best performers by systematically varying cue-stimulus intervals and inter-trial intervals. The results confirmed that these participants had no significant RT and ER switch costs when they had time to prepare the task between cue and target onset. However, significant switch costs emerged when cue and target stimulus were presented simultaneously. In Experiment 1C, using three classical task-switching paradigms, we compared the best performers with 9 controls who had made frequent errors in Experiment 1A. Although the best performers responded faster and made fewer errors, they only showed reduced switch costs in a pre-cued paradigm that had been extensively practiced. In two other paradigms with simultaneous presentation of cue and target stimulus, best performers had switch costs and showed considerable individual differences similar to the controls. We conclude that there are considerable individual differences in task switching and that smaller individual switch costs are mainly related to efficient task preparation. We speculate that efficient task preparation may be linked to better executive control and general intelligence.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Individual differences, Task-switching costs, Task preparation, Executive control, Linear mixed models
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2019 12:17
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2019 13:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23981

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