Research Shows The Cost Of A Three-Second Distraction

Research Shows The Cost Of A Three-Second Distraction

We all hate working with distractions. New research from Michigan State University shows just how bad distractions can be — even if they only take a few seconds each.

Picture: Jaysin Trevino/Flickr

Getting distracted with a separate job is one thing, but a new study shows that even a three-second interruption can cause you to make more errors in your work:

The study, in which 300 people performed a sequence-based procedure on a computer, found that interruptions of about three seconds doubled the error rate. . .

“So why did the error rate go up?” [said Erik Altmann, lead researcher on the study]. “The answer is that the participants had to shift their attention from one task to another. Even momentary interruptions can seem jarring when they occur during a process that takes considerable thought.”

This isn’t completely new information, nor is it directly translatable to your work. However, it does show how important it is to create a distraction-free environment when you need to buckle down and work. Hit the link to read more.

Brief interruptions spawn errors [MSU Today via PsychCentral]


  • And this is why the aviation maintenance industry advocates a go-back-three-steps rule of thumb when the technician gets distracted while doing maintenance.

    Whether it is being put into practice is another matter altogether.

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