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172. Performing Under Pressure with Sian Beilock

Performance pressure is pushing down on us and Queen was right – that pressure is terrifying! In this Psychologists Off the Clock podcast episode, Yael speaks with Dr. Sian Beilock, an expert on performance and brain science, and author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have to. Listen in to hear Sian’s insights and about her research into how our experiences, neurology, emotions, and thoughts interact to both foster and stump our ability to perform under pressure. You’ll learn about how mind-body communication leads to sub-optimal performance. And you’ll gain knowledge and strategies to make high pressure situations work to your advantage! Performing under pressure is a skill, like any other, Sian tells us. Tune in to learn how to build it.

Listen and Learn:

  • Why Sian started studying choking in the first place (hint: it was a bit of ‘me-search’)
  • Sian’s definition of choking
  • What types of situations and personal characteristics lend themselves to choking
  • What’s going on physiologically and neurologically when you’re choking under pressure
  • Strategies, tips, and tricks from Sian for dealing with choking
  • About embodied cognition, rest, and relaxation
  • How perfectionism and role switching might be involved in choking
  • Why self-compassion is so important when you’re performing under pressure
  • How prejudice, stereotypes, diversity, and evaluative apprehension impact the likelihood of choking

Performing Under Pressure Resources Mentioned:

About Choke Expert Dr. Sian Beilock:

A cognitive scientist by training, Dr. Sian Beilock earned her Bachelor of Science in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates of philosophy in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University. Sian has served as the eighth President of Barnard College at Columbia University since 2017. Her work as a cognitive scientist revolves around performance anxiety and reveals simple psychological strategies that can be used to ensure success in everything from test taking and public speaking to athletics and job interviews.

Sian is one of the world’s leading experts on the brain science behind performing under pressure and the brain and body factors influencing all types of choking (from test-taking to public speaking to your golf swing). She has authored two critically acclaimed books published in more than a dozen languages – Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have to and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel, as well as over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Her 2017 TED talk on why we choke under pressure has been viewed over 2 million times. You can find out more about Dr. Beilock here.

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Episode 172