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Individuals Distraction can Be Measured by a Computer Based Test

A psychologist at the University College London has designed a computer based test that may reveal how easily an individual can be distracted.

Professor Nilli Lavie claims that her scientific test can be used as another assessment tool during the recruitment process, and may be beneficial in fields where employee distraction can lead to fatal errors.

"When you are easily distracted, you are more liable to do things like put your keys in the fridge or call out 'come in' when answering the phone. These are the more amusing consequences of distraction but distraction can have more serious implications. For example, it is known to be associated with a higher risk of being involved in various types of accidents such as car and workplace accidents," said Professor Lavie, whose research has been published in the Association for Psychological Science journal.

This new test measures subjects' accuracy and reaction times when they are exposed to distractions, and effectively filters out candidates who are easily distracted.

"This test could act as another form of psychometric testing for employers who want to know how focused the staff they are hiring are likely to be. Some jobs can be undertaken very well even if you are prone to being distracted. For example, you can be a great scientist or writer and still be absent-minded! But there are many areas where productivity critically depends on the ability of staff to stay focused, yet current psychometric tests do not measure it," said Professor Lavie.

She says that the test correlates with responses given to the 'Cognitive Failures Questionnaire' that predicts a person's level of distractibility, provided that the subject answers honestly.

"Relying on questionnaires to assess how easily distracted potential employees might be obviously has its downsides people are not always honest about their negative attributes during interviews," said Prof
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