Influence of cognitive flexibility vs. persistence on subsequent dual-task performance

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Cognitive metacontrol states can be characterised as persistent, i.e. focusing all attention on one task, or as flexible, i.e. allocating attention to multiple tasks. It is debated whether people adapt their control state to the environment/current task or whether they have a natural preference towards one of the two states (Mekern & Hommel,2019). Research has shown that being rewarded in tasks can promote flexible states,but for this effect’s extent it matters whether people are already in a flexible state at baseline (Dreisbach & Fröber,2019). Our study aimed at examining the extent to which people can be put into a persistent vs. flexible state and whether this would influence subsequent rewarded and unrewarded dual-task performance. It was hypothesized that a flexible state would be beneficial for dual-tasking as it allows more divided attention. In Experiment 1, participants first completed an unrewarded dual-task, were then divided into two groups completing tasks that put people in a flexible (divergent thinking tasks) or persistent state (convergent thinking tasks), and repeated the dual-taskwithreward conditions. On day two,participants passed through the same procedure but changed groups. Preliminary results show that participants (N = 31) multitask more when they are rewarded,F(2,60) = 4.88,p= .011,η² = .006.,but there was no difference after persistence and flexibility state inductions,F(1,30) = 1.47,p= .235,η² = .000 and no interaction,F(2,60) < 1,p= .394,η² = .000. Experiment 2 followed the same procedure,but participants completed a rewarded dual task prior and after state induction. Preliminary data reveals that when participants only work on rewarded tasks, there is an effect of induction, because people multitask more after flexibility inductions (i.e. higher switch rate),F(1,13) = 10.12, p= .007, η² = .017. The change rate from pre-to post-induction measures was however equal for persistence and flexibility inductions,F(1,13) < 1,p= .434,η² = .000. The preliminary results are in line with the literature, suggesting more divided attention and thus ability to multitask when being in a flexible cognitive control state. Overall we were able to put participants into different states, which rather speaks against a natural preference. This basic research may be important for sports. Considering that certain sports require the handling of multiple tasks, and a flexibility induction in this experiment took less than 15 minutes, a short intervention before games or competitions could help athletes to better divide their attention on the track/field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationZukunft der Sportpsychologie : zwischen Verstehen und Evidenz; Book of Abstracts ; virtuelle Online-Tagung ; 52. Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie 21. bis 23. Mai 2020, Salzburg
EditorsGünter Amesberger, Sabine Würth, Thomas Finkenzeller
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationSalzburg
PublisherUniversität Salzburg
Publication date24.05.2020
Pages131
Publication statusPublished - 24.05.2020
EventJahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie: Zukunft der Sportpsychologie - Salzburg, Austria
Duration: 21.05.202023.05.2020
Conference number: 52

ID: 5367978

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