Practice effects, emotion, and mechanisms of dual-task interference in driving and cell phone research
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Decades of research suggest that talking on a cell phone interferes with driving performance, but the underlying mechanisms of this interference remain poorly understood. Driving and cell phone research often generalizes easy, novice laboratory tasks to the well practiced task of driving, and it frequently ignores important factors like emotion in tasks used to represent cell phone conversation. This experiment sought to address these issues. Participants performed a tracking task and two verbal tasks over 7 one-hour sessions. At some times the tasks were performed individually, and at others the tracking task was performed concurrently with one of the verbal tasks. Participants watched an anger-inducing film clip at the beginning of the 7th session and were instructed to either down-regulate or maintain that anger. Results challenged the validity of generalizing easy novice task performance to driving performance.