QuestionThe ideology surrounding multitasking is one that looks at the brain’s ability to complete two different tasks at a single time with a high level of performance quality. Multitasking has been shown in a variety of theoretical ways with little being done in order to apply the theory. The current study being examined is one that aims to answer the broad question of, does multitasking affect cognitive function. The researchers have chosen to take a look at multitasking from an academic standpoint, asking the following question: does multitasking on a laptop in an academic setting affect memory retention and learning on both the user and any surrounding peers?AlternativesThe hypothesis that is presented within this experiment is one that states that multitasking, specifically while on a laptop in a classroom, decreases academic performance for the surrounding peers in direct view of distractions as it pulls attention away from processing lecture content (hypothesis 1). However, due to the nature of this study there are many alternatives that can be reached such as, multitasking on a laptop in a classroom increases academic performance for the surrounding peers in direct view of the laptop as it forces the mind to actively focus on the lecture content and not automate incoming thoughts and therefore process the information at a more conscious level (hypothesis 2). Lastly a hypothesis could be stated saying that multitasking on a laptop in a classroom has no effect on the academic performance for the surrounding peers in direct view of the laptop as it does not draw attention away from the lecturer (hypothesis 3).LogicLooking at each hypothesis stated above, there are many different aspects that a researcher can look for to quantitatively say which hypothesis is correct. If hypothesis 1 is proven to be correct than scores on comprehension tests from students viewing a laptop should be lower than those not in view of a laptop. Furthermore, if hypothesis 2 is right than researchers would see higher scores on comprehension tests  from students viewing a laptop as opposed to students not in view of a laptop. Lastly if hypothesis 3 is chosen, then there would be little to no difference in scores on a comprehension test.MethodFor the purpose of this study thirty-nine students at the undergraduate level were asked to participate. There were multiple criteria that made a student eligible to take part such as, not participating in Experiment 1, having prior familiarity with course content and having a laptop of their own. The students asked to participate were all part of the introductory psychology course and were chosen through an online portal ensuring randomization.  The materials used consisted of, a 45-min lecture slide, instruction sheet, a questionnaire, pencils and pens for note taking and a comprehension test. There were 38 experimental participants and 36 confederates who were split up in the room at a 1:2 ratio. Due to the size of the room and the fact that it can only hold 20 students, several trials were conducted and measures were taken in order to ensure that the there were roughly the same number of experimental participants in each trial. As the students entered the room they were assigned a random chair number which had a consent form and an instruction sheet advising them to be either a confederate who were meant to multitask with the laptop’s or the experimental participants meant to focus on the lecture at hand and who used a pen and pencil. The chairs were also set in a way that a participant in direct view of a confederate’s laptop or in direct view of another participant with paper. The lecture time was 45 minutes, and at the back of the room for the duration of the lecture,a researcher observed in order to ensure the integrity of the experiment was not compromised by a confederate who was not adequately multitasking. At the end of the lecture the notes taken by the participants were collected and the confederates were asked to leave the room. In order to not draw suspicion, the experimenters told the remaining participants that they would return to complete the comprehensive test the next day. It is clear that the researchers were measuring (dependent variable) the scores received on the comprehension test and they were manipulating (independent variable) whether the participant was in view of a multitasking laptop and was therefore between-subject analysis and the complexity of the comprehension test which was a within-subject analysis.ResultsTo secure the results, researchers chose to have no demographic differences between the participants. In order to get accurate results numerically a 2 x 2 analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used in order to analyze differences between group means. The location of the experimental participants evidently played a large role in the grade received on the comprehension test with a mean grade of 0.56 with a standard deviation of 0.12 calculated by looking at the 19 participants in view of laptops. Alternatively participants who were not placed behind those with laptops scored on average 0.73 with a standard deviation of 0.12  computed over the 19 participants not in view of the laptops. It was also observed that the complexity of the questions contributed to test scores showing simple questions being completed correctly on average at 0.69 with a standard deviation of 0.14 over 20 participants from either group, while complex questions were answered at 0.60 with a standard deviation of 0.15 over 20 participants. Looking at the data however it is clear that the complexity or lack thereof, does not play a large role in the final results.Therefore the data clearly shows  that having a nearby distraction has significant effects on class performance.Inferences The results presented in the experiment match hypothesis 1 created by the researchers. Due to the findings retrieved, the other alternatives presented that hypothesize an increase or a neutral relationship can be eliminated. The authors of this study conclude that although the students not using a laptop are actively trying to learn, they are being hindered by the decisions of their peers. However, looking at the results presented in this study, a claim can be made that a contributing factor to the data is the social aspect that came with it. The students were incentivized to join the study in order to get credit however they consciously knew that it was just an experiment. The participants may have felt as though they did not need to try very hard and seeing as this was not a class or lecture content they willingly chose, it could lead to a lack of attention. Moreover, the students who scored lower on the comprehension tests were placed behind confederates browsing on the internet who made it seem as though paying attention was not mandatory and so they did not give it their best effort. On the other hand participants aware of the study had the advantage of not being inhibited by a laptop screen, and may have caused them to focus intently and therefore get higher score on their comprehension tests. A follow up study that can be initiated is one that observes participants and their ability to drive while distracted. This can further answer the broad question of does multitasking affect cognitive function as it will test driving abilities while stretching the minds attention