Audience Support and Choking Under Pressure: A Home Disadvantage?

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This paper highlights the not-so-obvious but compelling reasons why the same supportive audiences that can help performers attain their highest potential also may increase performers' risk of choking under pressure. Drawing primarily from social psychology research and theory, we conclude that audience support magnifies performance pressure and induces performers to avoid failure rather than seek success during the most critical moments of performance contests. Although supportive audiences can inspire performers to excel when motivation would otherwise be lacking, audiences may also lead performers towards maladaptive self-monitoring and overcautiousness when the stakes are highest. The increased self-focus that supportive audiences induce can disrupt the automatic execution of the skills performers possess. Dispositional and situational moderators of the relationship between audience support and performance are reviewed.

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Journal of Sports Sciences

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