Faculty Articles

Under Pressure: An Examination of the Predictors of Choking

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Journal of Individual Differences





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Choking under pressure refers to situations in which an individual fails to perform at the level that would be expected given their skills. Individuals with higher working memory are more susceptible to choking under pressure than individuals with lower working memory, presumably due to increases in pressure related task-unrelated thoughts (Beilock & Carr, 2005). Increased susceptibility to choking in higher working memory individuals may be due to their use of more resource demanding problem-solving strategies. However, according to the executive attention view of working memory, higher working memory individuals should be less likely to experience task-unrelated thoughts during an effortful task than lower working memory individuals (McVay & Kane, 2009). The current study examined the role of working memory, task-unrelated thoughts, negative evaluative thoughts, state anxiety, and need for cognition on the likelihood to choking under pressure. Sixty undergraduates completed measures of working memory. Participants then completed a novel math task, a pressure manipulation consisting of a possible monetary reward for improved performance, and then a second novel math task. Results suggest higher working memory and higher need for cognition were related to lower likelihood to choke under pressure, while negative task evaluative thoughts and state anxiety were related to higher likelihood to choke. Under Pressure - ResearchGate. Available from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/275519112_Under_Pressure [accessed Sep 29, 2015].

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