The efficiency of interruption handling in free and forced switching tasks



An ecologically valid experimental study of the effect of switching mode for the efficiency of interruption handling is presented. Two switching modes, free switching and forced switching, were used in the study. Free switching permits the subject to perform some preparatory activity before switching to the interrupting task, whereas forced switching makes any kind of preparation very difficult. It is shown that free switching makes handling of complex interruptions more efficient. In addition, an analysis of mean fixation duration at different stages of interruption handling shows that differences in interruption handling efficiency are paralleled by differences in cognitive workload. Implications for the notion of different interruption handling strategies which are aimed at optimizing cognitive workload are discussed.

General Information

Keywords: switching, preparatory interval, strategies, cognitive load, length of fixations

Journal rubric: Psychology of Labor and Engineering Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Velichkovsky B.B., Zlokazova T.A., Kapiza M.S. The efficiency of interruption handling in free and forced switching tasks. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2010. Vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 45–57. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Boris B. Velichkovsky, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Chair of Methodology of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Professor, Chair of General Psychology, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Tatiana A. Zlokazova, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher in the Laboratory of Work Psychology, Department of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

M. S. Kapiza, PhD in Psychology, Senior Research Associate, Laboratory of Psychology of Labor, Department of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia



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