Self-Presentation Origins of Choking: Evidence From Separate Pressure Manipulations

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Whether self-presentation is involved in the choking process remains unknown. The purpose of the current study was to determine the role of self-presentation concerns on the frequency of choking within the context of a recently proposed self-presentation model. Experienced field hockey players (N = 45) were randomly assigned to one of five groups (i.e., performance-contingent monetary incentive, video camera placebo, video camera self-presentation, audience, or combined pressure), before taking penalty strokes in low- and high-pressure phases. Results indicated that groups exposed to self-presentation manipulations experienced choking, whereas those receiving motivational pressure treatments decreased anxiety and increased performance under pressure. Furthermore, cognitive state anxiety mediated the relationship between the self-presentation group and performance. These findings provide quantitative support for the proposed self-presentation model of choking, while also holding implications for anxiety manipulations in future sport psychology research.

Christopher Mesagno and Jack T. Harvey are with the School of Human Movement & Sport Sciences, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. Christopher M. Janelle is with the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.