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Pressure and Choking in Darts of College Athletes: The Interplay of Self-Enhancement

The problem of diminished performance under stress, often referred to as 'choking under pressure,' is a significant issue in the realm of sports psychology, especially during high-stakes competitions. Researchers have thoroughly explored various factors contributing to this issue, yet the role of self-enhancement in sporting competition scenarios hasn't received the same level of scrutiny. Characterized by an individual's inclination to emphasize positive outcomes for self-esteem protection and setting lofty personal standards, self-enhancement is increasingly becoming a focal point in the study of choking. Our research draws from the self-focus theory and related studies, probing the mediating influence of self-enhancement on the relationship between high-pressure environments and choking tendencies. In our study, we used an experimental design based on dart-throwing as a representative model for sports performance under stress, aiming to elucidate the role of self-enhancement as a mediating variable in such settings. Involving fifty collegiate athletes, the study required participants to first complete a self-enhancement personality measure. They then engaged in dart-throwing tasks under two different conditions: one with low pressure and another with high pressure. Using statistical analysis tools SPSS 27.0 and Process 4.2, we discovered a link between high levels of self-enhancement, increased self-perceived cognitive pressure (β=.43, p<.01), and a higher chance of choking (β=.39, p<.01). The findings reveal that self-enhancement partially mediates the relationship between perceived pressure and performance, accounting for a variance of 30% in sports settings. It suggests that self-enhancement serves as a connecting factor between pressure perception and choking. These insights into self-enhancement tendencies provide valuable perspectives for designing future interventions to help mitigate choking. Such efforts could, in turn, potentially boost the competitiveness and longevity of collegiate athletes' performances.

Pressure, Self-Enhancement, Choking, Mediating Effect

Jinhua Liu, Zhicai Gao, Ya Zhou, Zhi Qiao, Sumaira Kayani. (2023). Pressure and Choking in Darts of College Athletes: The Interplay of Self-Enhancement. American Journal of Sports Science, 11(3), 59-67.

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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