Stage Fright

The pressure. The expectations. The anxiety. If there’s one thing that connects the athletes gathering for the Olympic games with the rest of us, it’s the stress that can come from performing in front of others. In this week’s episode, we talk with cognitive scientist Sian Beilock about why so many of us crumble under pressure –– and what we can do about it.

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Additional Resources


Choke: What the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to, Sian Beilock, PH.D.  Atria Paperback/Simon and Schuster 2010

Research Studies:

Why Do Athletes Choke under Pressure? Sian L. Beilock and Rob Gray, Chapter 19 of Handbook of Sport Psychology 2007

A Closer Look at Who “Chokes under Pressure”  Jason Sattizahn, Jason Moser, Sian Beilock, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2016

Beyond the playing field: sport psychology meets embodied cognition, Sian L. Beilock, International Review of Sport and Exercise Physiology, 2008

Performance during competition and competition outcome in relation to testosterone and cortisol among women, Andrea Henry, Jason Sattizahn, Greg J. Norman, Sian L. Beilock, Dario Maestripieri, Hormones and Behavior Volume 92, June 2017

When Math Hurts: Math Anxiety Predicts Pain Network Activation in Anticipation of Doing Math, Ian M. Lyons, Sian L Beilock, PLOS ONE, 2012

The role of anxiety and motivation in students’ math and science achievement, Christopher S Rozek, Susan C. Levin, Sian L. Beilock, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development iLibrary, 2019

Reducing socioeconomic disparities in the STEM pipeline through student emotion regulation, Christopher Rozek, Gerardo Ramirez, Rachel D. Fine, and Sian L. Beillock, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  2019

Reading Anxiety: An Early Affective Impediment to Children’s Success in Reading among Children, Gerardo Ramirez, Laura Fries, Elizabeth Gunderson, Marjorie W Schaeffer, Erin A. Maloney, Sian L. Beilock & Susan C. Levine, Journal of Cognition and Development, 2019

Psychosocial stress reversibly disrupts prefrontal processing and attentional control, C. Liston, B.S. McEwen, and B. J. Casey, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009

When paying attention becomes counterproductive: Impact of divided versus skill-focused attention on nov- ice and experienced performance of sensorimotor skills,” S. L. Beilock, T. H. Carr, C. MacMahon, and J. L. Starkes, Journal of Experimental Psychology: 2002


John Roberts delivers the oath of office to President Barack Obama January 2009

Keith Clark plays taps at President JF Kennedy’s funeral:

Jean van de Velde  at the 18 hole during the British Open l999:

Eagles perform Take it Easy live with Jackson Browne, l974

Cate Campbell on setting a new world record in 100m freestyle,

Cate Cambpell 2019 interview on her attitude towards competition:


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