We examined the relation between pressure- induced performance decrements, or ‘‘choking under pressure,’’ in mathematical problem solving and individ- ual differences in working memory capacity. In cognitively based academic skills such as math, pressure is thought to harm performance by reducing the working memory ca- pacity available for skill execution. Results demonstrated that only individuals high in working memory capacity were harmed by performance pressure, and, furthermore, these skill decrements were limited to math problems with the highest demands on working memory capacity. These findings suggest that performance pressure harms indi- viduals most qualified to succeed by consuming the work- ing memory capacity that they rely on for their superior performance.

Link to Article: https://hpl.uchicago.edu/sites/hpl.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/Psychological%20Science2005.pdf