Playing games before an audience: Social facilitation or choking

Charles E. Kimble1, Jeffery S. Rezabek1
1University of Dayton, United States
Cite this article:  Kimble, C., & Rezabek, J. (1992). Playing games before an audience: Social facilitation or choking. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 20, 115-120.

Volume 20 Issue 2 | e672 | Published: May 1992 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1992.20.2.115

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In this study we examined video game performance under audience scrutiny to see if social facilitation or choking effects would be obtained. Social facilitation theory suggests that good players would do better and poor players would do worse under audience pressure and that all players would do better on a simple or maximizing game and worse on a complex or optimizing game under audience pressure. Choking research indicates that audience pressure would produce poorer performance on both games. College student players played either a simple game, Pinball, or a complex game, Tetris, unobserved and then as the experimenter watched. Results showed that good players performed worse and bad players played better on the simple game under audience pressure. All participants played worse under audience pressure on the complex game. The choking approach accounts for these results better than social facilitation theory does.
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