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Becker, Linda; Kaltenegger, Helena C.; Nowak, Dennis ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7871-8686; Rohleder, Nicolas and Weigl, Matthias ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2408-1725 (2022): Differences in stress system (re-)activity between single and dual- or multitasking in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. In: Health Psychology Review, Vol. 17, No. 1: pp. 78-103

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In the age of digitilization, multitasking requirements are ubiquitous, especially in the workplace. Multitasking (MT) describes the activity of performing multiple (at least two) tasks at the same time. Dual tasking (DT) refers to the sequential switching between two tasks. The aim of our systematic review and meta-analysis was first to investigate whether physiological stress systems become activated in response to or during MT/DT and, second, whether this (re-)activity is higher compared to single tasking. We focused on the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, and the immune system. The systematic review has been pre-registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020181415). A total of twenty-five articles were identified as eligible, in which n = 26 studies were reported, with N = 1142 participants. Our main findings are that SNS activity is significantly higher and PNS activity is significantly lower during MT/DT than during single tasking. Only two studies were found, in which HPA axis (re-)activity was surveyed. No eligible study was identified in which immune system (re-)activity was investigated. This is the first systematic synthesis of the literature base showing that stress system activity is increased during MT/DT in comparison to single-tasking.

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