Summary of Choke

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Choke book summary

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Psychology professor Sian Beilock answers many compelling questions, among them: Why do people choke, and what can you do to avoid choking under pressure? Beilock points out steps you can follow to hold up better in a pinch. Some are small and easy, others more complex and systemic. Though the author makes the same points – or the same sort of points, in different ways – her ideas apply to many fields. getAbstract recommends her book to athletes, salespeople, leaders, speakers, teachers and anyone who wants to perform well in the clutch.

About the Author

Sian Beilock is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago.


What Is Choking, and Why Does It Happen?

Like everyone else, you want to succeed, especially when the stakes are high. Whether you’re trying to score the winning run in the last game of the World Series or giving a presentation to potential investors who can make or break your start-up company, you want to perform at the top of your ability. However, too often, people who should deliver superior performances – people who have the talent, the preparation and the experience to do well – choke. That is the definition of choking: not doing badly when you’re new to a field or unskilled, but fumbling when you have all the skills and talent you need to do well. Why do you choke?

Understand what causes choking, and you can avoid it and ensure higher levels of personal performance in high-stakes situations. Your “working-memory” allows you to hold information in your mind while doing other things, such as reasoning about that information to solve a problem. Stress and worry disrupt your working-memory, causing your intellectual performance to suffer. An experiment studying how physics experts solved problems compared to physics novices showed fundamental differences in their...

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