Task preparation and task repetition: Two-component model of task switching

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

The switch cost (the disadvantage of performing a new task vs. a repeated task) has been attributed to lack of preparation for the switched task or priming of the repeated task. These sources were examined by manipulating foreknowledge of task transition (repeat or switch), response-to-stimulus interval (RSI), and practice level. Regardless of foreknowledge, the cost decreased with RSI and practice. The reduction was greater with foreknowledge than with no foreknowledge, and the amount of switch cost did not depend on foreknowledge. These results suggest that the switch cost with foreknowledge may consist of both inadequate preparation and repetition benefit but the switch cost with no foreknowledge may reflect repetition benefit only. An ACT-R (adaptive control of thought-rational) model was proposed, accommodating both preparation and priming effect with 2 independent processes: conflict resolution among productions and decay of chunk activation.


Published In

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 103, 4, 764-778.