Choking and excelling under pressure in experienced classifiers Academic Article uri icon


  • We extend previous work examining the effects of pressure on category learning to the effects of pressure on categorization performance in highly trained individuals. After extensive training on either a rule-based or an information-integration classification task, half of the participants performed the same task on a fifth day while under pressure to earn a monetary bonus ($50) for themselves and a partner. Performance of this group was compared with that of a low-pressure control group who performed without the pressure manipulation. Pressure caused performance decrements both for experienced classifiers performing rule-based tasks and for those performing information-integration tasks, as compared with control groups. These results contrast with those of previous research, where inexperienced classifiers choked on rule-based tasks but excelled on information-integration tasks. An additional "superpressure" block of trials was given at the end of the fifth session. Under this type of pressure, participants performing an information-integration task outperformed those performing rule-based tasks. Implications for theories of choking under pressure are discussed.

author list (cited authors)

  • Worthy, D. A., Markman, A. B., & Maddox, W. T.

citation count

  • 14

publication date

  • May 2009