Who’s slowing you down?

New York:

People in your work area might be slowing you down, even if unwittingly, a new study has found.

Having an individual working on a different task, within your vision, could be enough to slow down your performance, said Tim Welsh of the University of Calgary, who led the study.

If we see someone performing a task, we automatically imagine ourselves doing it. This behaviour is part of our mirror neuron system.

The findings from Welsh’s latest work, Seeing vs. believing, have been published in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Movement Science.

When an individual could see their partner performing the task, the partner’s performance interfered with his or her own performance, slowing them down, Welsh explained.

“When the partner left the room and the individual could only see the results of the partner’s action, not the action itself... performance improved,” he said.

In a task requiring speed and accuracy, “I think an argument could be made for a work setting in which people work in isolation or at least those doing very similar tasks,” Welsh added.