High achievers more likely to choke under pressure
Wednesday 27 October 2010
When the pressure is on, why do we sometimes choke? Surprising studies reveal that high achievers, from top athletes to star students, are more likely to crack under pressure. A new book examines why and how to avoid it.
Sian Beilock, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, says it's all in the brain. In her book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, she boils it down to this: under pressure, the prefrontal cortex (the very front part of the brain) stops working the way it should. And while high achievers are exposed to more high pressure situations, increasing their likelihood for choking, Beilock says that doesn't matter. It's because they are high in cognitive horsepower, which can collapse under fire.
"They feel a lot of pressure to succeed because they have high expectations, but also because they normally rely heavily on working memory that is really compromised under stress," Beilock explained in the book.
How to avoid choking? Beilock recommends practicing under stress, so you get used to the pressure. Even practicing under mild levels of pressure, such as with friends watching you, can be sufficient to help you when the real pressure hits.
Focus on the outcome, not the mechanics, adds Beilock. She also recommends writing down your thoughts and worries, to unscramble them from your brain. You can do this a few minutes before the event or in the days or weeks preceding if necessary.
To read Beilock's blog entry: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/choke/201008/rod-what-took-you-so-long
For more on the book: http://www.amazon.com/Choke-Secrets-Brain-Reveal-Getting/dp/1416596178
Life & Style blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...