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Are Your Co-Workers Making You Dumber?

Skittles Cubicle
Megan Geckler

The New York Times says your co-workers are making you dumber.  We all have co-workers we like to chat with, others we try to avoid, but all of them are making you dumber around the office.

Why?

We all think we can multitask, but it is just making us dumber.

According to Gloria Mark from the University of California, Irvine, workers go about 11 minutes without an interruption at work and it takes 25 minutes to get back on task.

So, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University decided to do an experiment to see its effects.

The subjects were split into three groups: one uninterrupted and two were told they would be interrupted.  One group was interrupted.  The other wasn’t.  All subjects had to take a cognitive skills test after.

Researchers expected the interrupted group to do fairly poorly, but both interrupted groups performed 20% worse than the control group.

To compare to a classroom setting, the New York Times says that’s enough to turn a B-minus (80) student into a failing (62).

Part two involved part of the interrupted group were told they would be interrupted again, but were actually left alone.  The difference improved to the interrupted group performing at 14% worse than the uninterrupted group.  However, the originally warned but were uninterrupted improved by 43% the second time and outperformed the uninterrupted group.

Researchers say participants learned from the experience and their brains adapted.  They also say more research into this is required.

While it’s nice to know some science about co-workers, but do you think your co-workers are making you dumber?

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