Christopher Mesagno, Daryl Marchant and Tony Morris
“Choking under pressure” is a maladaptive response to performance pressure whereby choking models have been identified, yet, theory-matched interventions have not empirically tested. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether a preperformance routine (PPR) could reduce choking effects, based on the distraction model of choking. Three “choking-susceptible”, experienced participants were purposively sampled, from 88 participants, to complete ten-pin bowling deliveries in a single-case A1-B1-A2-B2 design (A phases = “low-pressure”; B phases = “high-pressure”), with an interview following the single-case design. Participants experienced “choking” in the B1 phase, which the interviews indicated was partially due to an increase in self-awareness (S-A). During the B2 phase, improved accuracy occurred when using the personalized PPR and, qualitatively, positive psychological outcomes included reduced S-A and decreased conscious processing. Using the personalized PPR produced adaptive and relevant, task-focused attention.
Christopher Mesagno, Jack T. Harvey and Christopher M. Janelle
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.
Katharina Geukes, Christopher Mesagno, Stephanie J. Hanrahan and Michael Kellmann
Trait activation theorists suggest that situational demands activate traits in (pressure) situations. In a comparison of situational demands of private (monetary incentive, cover story), mixed (monetary incentive, small audience), and public (large audience, video taping) high-pressure situations, we hypothesized that situational demands of private and mixed high-pressure conditions would activate self-focus traits and those of a public high-pressure condition would activate self-presentation traits. Female handball players (N = 120) completed personality questionnaires and then performed a throwing task in a low-pressure condition and one of three high-pressure conditions (n = 40). Increased anxiety levels from low to high pressure indicated successful pressure manipulations. A self-focus trait negatively predicted performance in private and mixed high-pressure conditions, and self-presentation traits positively predicted performance in the public high-pressure condition. Thus, pressure situations differed in their trait-activating situational demands. Experimental research investigating the trait–performance relationship should therefore use simulations of real competitions over laboratory-based scenarios.