Restoration of Attention by Rest in a Multitasking World: Theory, Methodology, and Empirical Evidence

Frontiers in Psychology 13 (2022)
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Abstract

In this work, we evaluate the status of both theory and empirical evidence in the field of experimental rest-break research based on a framework that combines mental-chronometry and psychometric-measurement theory. To this end, we provide a taxonomy of rest breaks according to which empirical studies can be classified. Then, we evaluate the theorizing in both the basic and applied fields of research and explain how popular concepts relate to each other in contemporary theoretical debates. Here, we highlight differences between all these models in the light of two symbolic categories, termed the resource-based and satiation-based model, including aspects related to the dynamics and the control mechanisms at work. Based on a critical assessment of existing methodological and theoretical approaches, we finally provide a set of guidelines for both theory building and future empirical approaches to the experimental study of rest breaks. We conclude that a psychometrically advanced and theoretically focused research of rest and recovery has the potential to finally provide a sound scientific basis to eventually mitigate the adverse effects of ever increasing task demands on performance and well-being in a multitasking world at work and leisure.

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