Advertisement

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1005–1010 | Cite as

Choking under pressure and working memory capacity: When performance pressure reduces fluid intelligence

  • David Gimmig
  • Pascal HuguetEmail author
  • Jean-Paul Caverni
  • François Cury
Brief Report

Abstract

Recent findings (Beilock & Carr, 2005) have demonstrated that only individuals with a high working memory capacity (WMC) “choke under pressure” on math problems with high working memory demands. This suggests that performance pressure hinders those who are the most qualified to succeed, because it consumes the WMC they usually rely on to achieve superior performance. This puts into question the use of performance in high-pressure situations as a means of distinguishing individuals with lesser or greater WMC potentials. While addressing several limitations of past research, we offer evidence that such choking (1) occurs only in individuals with high WMC, because of their anxiety-ridden perceptions of high-stakes situations, and (2) is not confined to tasks involving acquired skills and knowledge, but encompasses fluid reasoning abilities or intelligence (Gf). These findings have strong implications for assessments of people’s intellectual capacities in academic, clinical, work, and research settings.

Keywords

Journal ofExperimental Psychology State Anxiety Stereotype Threat Reading Span High Work Memory Capacity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Ashcraft, M. H., &Kirk, E. P. (2001). The relationships among working memory, math anxiety, and performance.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,130, 224–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baddeley, A. D. (1996). Exploring the central executive.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,49A, 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baron, R. M., &Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations.Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, L. R., Tugade, M. M., &Engle, R. W. (2004). Individual differences in working memory capacity and dual-process theories of the mind.Psychological Bulletin,130, 553–573.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F. (1984). Choking under pressure: Self-consciousness and paradoxical effects of incentives on skillful performance.Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,46, 610–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beilock, S. L., &Carr, T. H. (2001). On the fragility of skilled performance: What governs choking under pressure?Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,130, 701–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beilock, S. L., &Carr, T. H. (2005). When high-powered people fail: Working memory and “choking under pressure” in math.Psychological Science,16, 101–105.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Beilock, S. L., Kulp, C. A., Holt, L. E., &Carr, T. H. (2004). More on the fragility of performance: Choking under pressure in mathematical problem solving.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,133, 584–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cadinu, M., Maass, A., Rosabianca, A., &Kiesner, J. (2005). Why do women underperform under stereotype threat?Psychological Science,16, 572–578.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Cattell, R. B. (1943). The measurement of adult intelligence.Psychological Bulletin,40, 153–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Croizet, J.-C., Després, G., Gauzins, M.-E., Huguet, P., Leyens, J.-P., &Méot, A. (2004). Stereotype threat undermines intellectual performance by triggering a disruptive mental load.Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin,30, 721–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Daneman, M., &Carpenter, P. A. (1980). Individual differences in working memory and reading.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,19, 450–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Desmette, D., Hupet, M., Schelstraete, M.-A., &Van der Linden, M. (1995). Adaptation en langue française du “Reading Span Test” de Daneman et Carpenter (1980) [A French version of M. Daneman and P. A. Carpenter’s (1980) Reading Span Test].L’Année Psychologique,95, 459–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Engle, R. W., &Kane, M. J. (2004). Executive attention, working memory capacity, and a two-factor theory of cognitive control. In B. H. Ross (Ed.),The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 44, pp. 145–199). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Eysenck, M. W., &Calvo, M. G. (1992). Anxiety and performance: The processing efficiency theory.Cognition & Emotion,6, 409–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huguet, P., Galvaing, M. P., Monteil, J. M., &Dumas, F. (1999). Social presence effects in the Stroop task: Further evidence for an attentional view of social facilitation.Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,77, 1011–1025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kane, M. J., &Engle, R. W. (2000). Working-memory capacity, proactive interference, and divided attention: Limits on long-term memory retrieval.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,26, 336–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kane, M. J., Hambrick, D. Z., Tuholski, S. W., Wilhelm, O., Payne, T. W., &Engle, R. W. (2004). The generality of working memory capacity: A latent-variable approach to verbal and visuospatial memory span and reasoning.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,133, 189–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Killeen, P. R. (2005). An alternative to null-hypothesis significance tests.Psychological Science,16, 345–353.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Lynn, R., Allik, J., &Irwing, P. (2004). Sex differences on three factors identified in Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices.Intelligence,32, 411–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., Hoffman, J. M., West, S. G., &Sheets, V. (2002). A comparison of methods to test mediation and other intervening variable effects.Psychological Methods,7, 83–104.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Raven, J. C., Raven, J. E., &Court, J. H. (1998).Progressive matrices. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  23. Rhodewalt, F. (1990). Self-handicappers: Individual differences in the preference for anticipatory self-protective acts. In R. L. Higgins, C. R. Snyder, & S. Berglas (Eds.),Self-handicapping: The paradox that isn’t (pp. 69–106). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  24. Rosen, V. M., &Engle, R. W. (1997). The role of working memory capacity in retrieval.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,126, 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schmader, T., &Johns, M. (2003). Converging evidence that stereotype threat reduces working memory capacity.Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,85, 440–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schmidt, F. L., &Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings.Psychological Bulletin,124, 262–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shah, P., &Miyake, A. (1996). The separability of working memory resources for spatial thinking and language processing: An individual differences approach.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,125, 4–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., &Lushene, R. E. (1970).Manual for the State—Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  29. Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance.American Psychologist,52, 613–629.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Steele, C. M., Spencer, S. J., &Aronson, J. (2002). Contending with group image: The psychology of stereotype threat and social identity threat. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 34, pp. 379–440). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Unsworth, N., &Engle, R. W. (2005). Working memory capacity and fluid abilities: Examining the correlation between operation span and Raven.Intelligence,33, 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. van der Ven, A. H. G. S., &Ellis, J. L. (2000). A Rasch analysis of Raven’s standard progressive matrices.Personality & Individual Differences,29, 45–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Gimmig
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pascal Huguet
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jean-Paul Caverni
    • 1
    • 2
  • François Cury
    • 3
  1. 1.CNRSMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Université Aix-Marseille 1MarseilleFrance
  3. 3.University of Nice Sophia AntipolisNiceFrance

Personalised recommendations