Multitasking and Happiness

I do love quoting articles from Harvard (well, Harvard Business Review)…it’s basically the same thing.

The article talks about how happiness is related to multitasking, and in particular that spending shorter time intervals multitasking makes people less happy. Now, that is pretty much how I work on MTurk. So why are people less happy when they do this

The answer has to do with feelings of productivity. People value feeling productive in how they spend their time. When circumstances limit people’s sense of progress or accomplishment, this reduces their happiness. Research has shown that workers who switch between a variety of tasks in a short time period are less productive than workers who stick to a similar set of activities over that same period. Switching between tasks consumes cognitive resources and takes up memory space, which makes people feel stressed and limits their ability to excel at the task at hand. Shorter time periods simply do not provide a sufficient opportunity to compensate for these costs. Thus, increasing the variety among the activities that fill these shorter time periods decreases happiness by making that time feel less productive.

What does this suggest for Turkers? Perhaps try to do a group of similar tasks at one sitting? Yes, but according to the article, only for an hour. Then switch to a different type of task.

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