The psychology of choking


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I interviewed University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock for this Globe and Mail article about “attentional focus” and athletic performance last year. She’s an exceptional researcher — her name comes up repeatedly when I’m interviewing other researchers, usually along the lines of “You should talk to Sian Beilock, she’s a genius and her research is fascinating.” She’s the one who did the study showing that expert golfers putt better when they’re distracted, while novices putt better when they focus — a finding that has been replicated in a wide variety of tasks.

I mention all this because Beilock’s new book, Choke: What the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to, was released today. She’s widely considered the world’s foremost expert on choking — and, needless to say, her research has a lot to say about how not to choke. I’m looking forward to reading the book. And in the meantime, she’s also blogging on the topic for Psychology Today.

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