Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups
By Cindy Lyles
Through the vividly expressed vignettes found in “The Art of Failure:
Why Some People Choke and Others Panic,” Malcolm Gladwell explores the
differences between choking versus panicking when one is under pressure.
Gladwell succinctly summarizes the definitions of panicking and
choking like this: “Panic…is the opposite of choking. Choking is about
thinking too much. Panic is about thinking too little. Choking is about
loss of instinct. Panic is reversion to instinct. They may look the
same, but they are worlds apart” (269).
Gladwell later expounds in the article on his ideas about panicking and
choking. In regards to choking specifically, he mentions that
“stereotype threat” (275) can trigger a certain group to choke and
underperform, especially when taking tests that marginalized students
knowingly measure their aptitude and abilities as compared to others
(e.g. black students on a standardized test versus white students, women
on a math test versus men, white athletes physicality versus black
What's one of the more recent instances of “stereotype threat” have you
noticed at SIUE, where failure occurred because second guesses became
especially prominent? What outside assumptions influenced the
under-performance, and in what ways can we challenge those notions in
order to break free from a cycle of choking (or panicking)?