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Title: Performance Under Pressure: An Analysis of Motor Movements and Behaviors Behind the Choking Phenomenon
Authors: Osborne, Tyler
Advisors: Taylor, Jordan
Contributors: Jacobs, Barry
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Many of us have witnessed the rare occasion where a professional golfer for example, misses a three-foot putt for par on the 18th green to send the tournament into a playoff. Why does this individual, who has practiced a particular motion for their entire life, suffer this performance decrement in a high‐pressure situation? To this day, four theories have arisen to try and explain this ‘choking’ phenomenon; distraction theory, self‐awareness theory, over‐motivation theory and personality theory. Till date, however, no studies have looked for a kinematic explanation to explain this failure in movement control. This current study tested performance for 3 different monetary incentives and the effect random pulse trials had on motor reaction to determine if any kinematic evidence exists, which could help support one of the existing theories regarding the choking phenomenon. Pulse trials were used to probe the reflex response of the motor system, which could help amplify underlying principles about the human motor system during these choke trials. A choking effect was found for performance in the 3 monetary conditions without pulse trials. However, the incorporation of pulse trials removed any choking effect. No statistical significant findings were found in the kinematics (average velocity, average displacement and average force) for movement trials and pulse trials between any of the three monetary incentive conditions. Increasing the monetary incentives could be useful in generating a stronger choking effect that may be required to observe any existing kinematic differences.
Extent: 55 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2016

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