The Effects of Stereotypes and Audience-Pressure on Athletic Performance: Threat, Lift, and Choking Under Pressure
Gainsburg, Izzy B.
- The present study examines how positive ingroup and positive outgroup stereotypes interact with audience-induced pressure to affect athletic performance. In sport the effects of negative stereotypes and pressure are well researched, but the effects of positive stereotypes and the interactions between stereotypes and pressure are less researched. Specifically, it remains an open question as to ... read morewhether positive ingroup stereotypes will enhance or impair performance, particularly in high-pressure situations. In the current study, White males shot an initial baseline set of free throws. They then watched a video either purporting a positive basketball stereotype about White basketball players, a video purporting a positive basketball stereotype about Black basketball players, or a neutral sports video. Following the video, participants shot a second set of free throws, during which half the participants were overtly videotaped for an Internet audience in order to induce an audience-pressure. We predicted positive ingroup stereotypes would cause stereotype lift in low-pressure situations, but cause choking in high-pressure situations. We predicted that positive outgroup stereotypes would hurt performance, and that these effects would be amplified by audience-pressure. Results supported these hypotheses, although audience-pressure did not significantly intensify decrements in participants primed with the positive outgroup stereotype. Discussion examines the potential limits of choking and threat, the contrasting effects of lift and choking inspired by positive ingroup stereotypes, and directions for future research.read less