When I think of you: choking and facilitating effect of close important others
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To date barely any research has investigated the influence of important others on performance in pressure situations. It was hypothesized that important others can induce choking and facilitation depending on timing. Facilitation was expected when names of important others were primed before skill execution, whereas choking was expected when primed during skill execution. Two experiments were performed to test the hypotheses, using an arithmetic problem solving and a basketball shooting task. While important others were previously thought to facilitate performance, the present research suggests that they can also distract, and thereby harm performance. Moreover, a facilitating effect of close important others was found when individual differences are considered. The mechanism that is proposed is that important others induce distracting goal-directed behaviour, instead of task-directed behaviour. Findings and implications are discussed in the light of current literature and suggestions for future research are given.