Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Pressure; Sensorimotor; Working memory; Performance


Underperformance in high-pressure situations, commonly known as choking under pressure, has been well-documented in the literature. For well-learned sensorimotor skills, such as sports, choking is thought to occur because individuals devote explicit attention to the steps of the skill, which disrupts performance. The current study examines how the type of pressure situation an individual experiences, and individual differences in working memory capacity, influence choking on a sensorimotor skill. Participants (N = 96) performed a Sensorimotor Reaction Time Task (SRTT) either under monitoring pressure, outcome pressure, or no pressure (control). High working-memory individuals performed significantly worse while completing the SRTT under monitoring pressure relative to outcome pressure. Low working-memory individuals performed marginally better than high working-memory individuals under monitoring pressure. These findings demonstrate that high working-memory negatively impacts sensorimotor skill performance in monitoring pressure situations. Furthermore, these results show how monitoring pressure leads to decreases in performance in high working-memory individuals due to enhancing the amount of attention these individuals direct to task execution.