Do Distractions Double our Mistakes?

Tuesday, 10th February 2015

Do Distractions Double our Mistakes?

A recent study from Michigan State University says YES! The recent study found that event short distractions, (even those lasting less than three seconds) DOUBLE the number of mistakes we make.

Around 300 Students were asked to complete a multi-step task on the computer and on approximately every 6th step a “CAPTCHA” box would pop on the screen and remain there until the students typed in the characters and hit enter.

·         In the first trial the code was 4 characters long, equalling on average a 4.4second
          interruption.

·         In the second trial the code was 2 characters and the average interruption was 2.8
          seconds.

According to the researchers, students make three times as many errors after the 4.4 sec interruption and two times as many errors after the 2.8 sec interruption.

So why does this happen? The study has come up with three factors:

1.       When processing an interruption you focus on information irrelevant to your primary
          task

2.       Being interrupted will disturb your ‘flow’ of understanding, making the mental leap
          from one concept to the next more difficult

3.       Interruptions upset your ‘retrieval accuracy’ or your ability to remember things
          correctly

What can be done?

Stay tuned for our next blog which will give readers Axiom Projects best tips on staying distraction free throughout the day even when operating in an open plan office!