Doing many things at a time: Lack of power decreases the ability to multitask

Ran Alice Cai, Ana Guinote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Three studies investigated the effects of power on the ability to pursue multiple, concomitant goals, also known as multitasking. It was predicted that powerless participants will show lower multitasking ability than control and powerful participants. Study 1 focused on self-reported ability to multitask in a sample of executives and subordinate employees. Studies 2 and 3 investigated the ability to dual-task and to switch between tasks, respectively, using dual-task and task-switching paradigms. Across the studies, powerless individuals were less able to effectively multitask compared with control and powerful participants, suggesting that the detrimental effects of lack of power extend beyond single-task environments, shown in past research, into multitasking environments. Underlying mechanisms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-492
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Dual-tasking
  • Goal pursuit
  • Multitasking
  • Power
  • Task-switching


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