Scientists Discover New Excuse for Poor Standardized Test Performance

by F.

Run out of excuses? Here’s a new one:

People perceived as the most likely to succeed might also be the most likely to crumble under pressure.

A new study finds that individuals with high working-memory capacity, which normally allows them to excel, crack under pressure and do worse on simple exams than when allowed to work with no constraints. Those with less capacity score low, too, but they tend not to be affected by pressure.

“The pressure causes verbal worries, like ‘Oh no, I can’t screw up,’” said Sian Beilock, assistant professor of psychology at Miami University of Ohio. “These thoughts reside in the working memory.” And that takes up space that would otherwise be pondering the task at hand.

“When they begin to worry, then they’re in trouble,” Beilock told LiveScience. “People with lower working-memory capacities are not using that capacity to begin with, so they’re not affected by pressure.”

More at Live Science. Yes, I know: this is an old article. I would have gotten to it sooner, but my working-memory was overloaded.

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