Men, not women, better multitaskers: Swedish study

File picture shows a man looking at his watch in front of a digital thermomoter in Los Angeles
File picture shows a man looking at his watch in front of a digital thermomoter showing the unoffical current temparture in Los Angeles, California, in September 2010. Working mothers may have to juggle more tasks than their husbands, but the long-held belief that women are better than men at multitasking is a myth, according to new Swedish research.

Working mothers may have to juggle more tasks than their husbands, but the long-held belief that women are better than men at multitasking is a myth, according to new Swedish research.

"On the contrary, the results of our study show that men are better at than women," Timo Maentylae, a psychology professor at Stockholm University, said.

Men are sometimes better than women at handling multiple tasks simultaneously, but the performance gap is correlated to the female menstrual cycle, according to his study, to be published in US peer-reviewed journal .

In line with previous research, men and women with good so-called were also better than others at multitasking.

However, Maentylae found that the ability to combine several different tasks at once was also linked to which, for women, is linked to their menstrual phase.

"Previous studies have shown that women's spatial skills vary across the menstrual cycle with high capacity around menstruation and much lower around ovulation, when oestrogen levels are high," he said.

"The results showed a clear difference in multitasking between men and women in the ovulation phase, while this effect was eliminated for women in the menstrual phase."

The participants, 160 men and between 20 and 43 years of age, were instructed to keep track of three digital "clocks", or counters, that displayed different times at different speeds.

While registering certain times displayed by the clocks, defined by a simple set of rules, they also had to watch a scrolling ticker featuring common Swedish names, pressing the mouse button when one of the names was repeated.

Differences in spatial ability and working memory were based on separate tests.


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Oct 24, 2012
I knew it!!! I've always known it!

Oct 24, 2012
I've been able to multi task pretty sufficiently. So I've never believed it was a woman's thing.

Maybe both genders are able to do it sufficiently well - so lets stop rivalling the genders.

Oct 24, 2012
No! That's not the POINT, Picard! We've ALWAYS known it! The point was thay THEY didn't know it and it was FINE that way. Don't you get it? If this starts getting around THEY'RE going to start expecting you to take the trash out at the same time as you dry the dishes, so how is THAT going to make any of US better off, EH?

Oct 24, 2012
Depends on what you're multi-tasking.

Women do all sorts of things as basic components of their daily routine and social norms which men do not do, or don't do to the same degree. Women's clothing is more complicated, they do makeup and certainly more complicated jewelry, usually have longer hair so require more maintenance there, etc. Even peeing is more complicated for a woman.

For men, it's "normal" just to throw on any random shirt and jeans or shorts and go, for women, everyone expects them to look perfect so they have to work harder.

Just saying, all sorts of things that can't be measured by an overly simplistic laboratory experiment.

Oct 24, 2012
Which is only one of the reasons why they are such bad drivers.

Oct 26, 2012
I know women can multitask, but its not always to their benefit. When I first got my drivers license in HS I was driving to school one morning and saw a lady driving with one hand, holding a bowl of cereal with that same hand and putting on lipstick with her other hand. Since she almost killed me twice and a few other people, I cant say that she was doing it very well.

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