Multi-Tasking Limits Self-Control

What a scary thought!  Essentially, the research is implying that we have finite self-control and can use it up on things like multi-tasking (which is pretty much a daily reality for most people I know).  And, since self-control is important for dieting, exercise, endurance, or concentration, this could be a real problem. 

This really creates an interesting issue around consumer engagement.  Are you better engaging them earlier in the day when they have more self-control to concentrate and evaluate information?  Or, are you better engaging them later at night when they’re relaxed and not multi-tasking?  Or, on the flip-side, should consumers think differently about how and when they engage based on their ability to evaluate complex decisions or options especially around something like healthcare? 

The human psyche is equipped with the capacity to solve problems using different mental states or mindsets.  Different mindsets can lead to different judgment and decision making styles, each associated with its own perspective and biases. To change perspective, people can, and often do, switch mindsets. We argue, however, that mindset switching can be costly for subsequent decisions. We propose that mindset switching is an executive function that relies on the same psychological resource that governs other acts of executive functioning, including self-regulation. This implies that there are psychic costs to switching mindsets that are borne out in depleted executive resources. One implication of this framework is that switching mindsets should render people more likely to fail at subsequent self-regulation than they would if maintaining a consistent mindset. The findings from experiments that manipulated mindset switching in five domains support this model. (abstract from paper Being of Two Minds: Switching Mindsets Exhausts Self-Regulatory Resources by Ryan Hamilton, Kathleen Vohs, Anne-Laure Sellier, and Tom Meyvis)

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