A shield against distraction

Article English OPEN
Halin, N. ; Marsh, J.E. ; Hellman, A. ; Hellstrom, I. ; Sörqvist, Patrik (2014)
  • Publisher: Elsevier
  • Journal: volume 3, issue 1, pages 31-36 (issn: 2211-3681)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2014.01.003
  • Subject: Basic Medicine | Distraction; Memory; Noise; Selective attention; Task difficulty; Working memory capacity | Medicinska och farmaceutiska grundvetenskaper

In this paper, we apply the basic idea of a trade-off between the level of concentration and distractibility to test whether a manipulation of task difficulty can shield against distraction. Participants read, either in quiet or with a speech noise background, texts that were displayed either in an easy-to-read or a hard-to-read font. Background speech impaired prose recall, but only when the text was displayed in the easy-to-read font. Most importantly, recall was better in the background speech condition for hard-to-read than for easy-to-read texts. Moreover, individual differences in working memory capacity were related to the magnitude of disruption, but only in the easy-to-read condition. Making a task more difficult can sometimes facilitate selective attention in noisy work environments by promoting focal-task engagement. © 2014 The Authors.
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