Understanding the psychological and physiological influences of performance under pressure on the general population


Researchers are starting to posit that the main theories of choking under pressure converge towards the same physiological concept of distracting/overloading the working memory center of the brain. Working memory is the method of using goal-directed behaviours to help retain stimuli and manipulate that information to warrant successful task execution (Chai et al.,2018). Therefore, it is understandable to see how previous research has provided information on how the psychological moderators influence successful task execution under pressure, but there is still a need to investigate physiological influences as well. Hill et al.,(2009) stated that progress in this area of research cannot be achieved unless there is a process created to identify those who are susceptible to choking under pressure. Therefore, the purpose of this experiment was to compare the physiological influences of working memory capacity, and the psychological influences of cognitive and somatic state anxiety of those who are choking susceptible (n=23) versus those who are non-choking susceptible (n=79). Independent sample t-tests showed that those categorized as choking susceptible scored significantly higher than those who were non-choking susceptible on the psychological moderators of cognitive anxiety (t(37.75)=-6.32, p< 0.001) and somatic anxiety (t(30.38)=-4.79, p< 0.001). There were no significant difference for the physiological moderator of working memory capacity. The current results provide insight on how some of the physiological and psychological factors are assessed at a baseline homeostatic level, but in the future, there is a need to assess these factors under both competitive stress and anxiety as well as physical fatigue.