The BBC Lab are conducting a survey into how we cope with pressure:
Critical moments – what makes the difference between success and failure?
‘Can you compete under pressure?’ aims to be the biggest ever study of the psychology of pressure. By analysing the data from those who take part, the scientists who designed it aim to shine unprecedented light on what affects performance under pressure. In doing so, they’ll discover something new about pressure in sport and in everyday life.
In this article, Professor Andy Lane of the University of Wolverhampton and Professor Peter Totterdell of the University of Sheffield explain more about what the experiment will reveal.
How effective are the psychological skills used by sportspeople?
Sportspeople have long known the benefits of psychological preparation. Some will talk to themselves in ways that they believe will improve performance, replacing self-doubt with positive thoughts about what they need to do in order to succeed. Others use a technique called visualisation, bringing to mind the sights, sounds and feelings of a successful performance, in order to be better prepared for the real situation. Many sportspeople plan their reactions to the many different things that might happen during competition.
Angry, anxious, happy, energetic – what’s the best emotion for pressure performance?
The data from the experiment will help solve another mystery in the psychology of pressure – the connection between emotions and performance.
What is emotion regulation?
In addition to understanding the connection between performance and emotional states, we’re also interested in the strategies people use to change how they are feeling.
Whether we realise it or not, we all have ways of controlling our emotions. What we’ll be measuring in this experiment, is the connection between controlling emotions and the reaction to performing poorly or very well.
Take part in the survey
Can you compete under pressure? Get your performance analysed by Michael Johnson. The survey takes 20 minutes to complete: https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/labuk/experiments/compete/
Because the ability to regulate emotions has been shown to be important in areas of life from family and work relationships, to how we deal with risk; the data from ‘Can you compete under pressure?’ should have application well beyond the world of sport.