Choking and Excelling under Pressure in Experienced Classifiers

By Worthy, Darrell A.; Markman, Arthur B. et al. | Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, May 2009 | Go to article overview

Choking and Excelling under Pressure in Experienced Classifiers


Worthy, Darrell A., Markman, Arthur B., Maddox, W. Todd, Attention, Perception and Psychophysics


We extend previous work examining the effects of pressure on category learning to the effects of pressure on categorization performance in highly trained individuals. After extensive training on either a rule-based or an information-integration classification task, half of the participants performed the same task on a fifth day while under pressure to earn a monetary bonus ($50) for themselves and a partner. Performance of this group was compared with that of a low-pressure control group who performed without the pressure manipulation. Pressure caused performance decrements both for experienced classifiers performing rule-based tasks and for those performing information-integration tasks, as compared with control groups. These results contrast with those of previous research, where inexperienced classifiers choked on rule-based tasks but excelled on information-integration tasks. An additional "superpressure" block of trials was given at the end of the fifth session. Under this type of pressure, participants performing an information-integration task outperformed those performing rule-based tasks. Implications for theories of choking under pressure are discussed.

The anecdotal phenomenon of choking under pressure has been the subject of much laboratory research (e.g., Beilock & Carr, 2005; Beilock, Kulp, Holt, & Carr, 2004; Markman, Maddox, & Worthy, 2006; Masters, 1992). Choking under pressure occurs when someone underperforms on a task, relative to their normal performance, because of an acute stressor. Research has focused on two different explanations for choking. The distraction theory, which has some similarity to processing efficiency theory (e.g., Eysenck & Calvo, 1992), proposes that pressure leads to a decrease in available working memory (WM) resources, which in turn has a negative impact on the performance of cognitively demanding tasks (Wine, 1971). Alternatively, the explicit monitoring theory, which has some similarity to reinvestment theory (see, e.g., Masters & Maxwell, 2008), proposes that pressure causes increased attention to skill-focused processes, which disrupts the performance of proceduralized tasks (Baumeister, 1984).

We test these accounts using highly trained participants. To place this work in context, we first discuss previous research exploring the distraction and explicit monitoring theories. Then we present data from a study in which a total of 69 participants first received over 2,500 trials of classification learning across four separate training sessions, and were then put under pressure in a fifth experimental session.

Previous Research on Distraction and Monitoring

There is evidence supporting both the distraction and monitoring theories of choking under pressure. Studies supporting the distraction theory often come from WMintensive tasks. For example, Markman et al. (2006) studied category-learning tasks. Participants performed either a rule-based task, which has been shown to recruit WM resources (Ashby, Alfonso-Reese, Turken, & Waldron, 1998; Maddox & Ashby, 2004; Maddox, Filoteo, Hejl, & Ing, 2004; Zeithamova & Maddox, 2006), or an information- integration task, which has been shown to recruit a procedural-based learning system that is not WM demanding (Ashby et al., 1998; DeCaro, Thomas, & Beilock, 2008; Maddox & Ashby, 2004; Maddox, Ashby, & Bohil, 2003). In accordance with the distraction theory, novice participants choked while performing the rulebased task under pressure, but they excelled while performing the information-integration task under pressure.

Further support for the distraction theory comes from Beilock and Carr (2005), who showed that performance of participants with high WM capacity declined more under pressure than did performance of those with low WM capacity. Additional studies using cognitively demanding tasks, such as math problems, also support the distraction theory (e.g. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Choking and Excelling under Pressure in Experienced Classifiers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.