Psychological Research

, Volume 80, Issue 4, pp 510–517 | Cite as

Working memory capacity, controlled attention and aiming performance under pressure

  • Greg WoodEmail author
  • Samuel J. Vine
  • Mark R. Wilson
Original Article


This study explored the possibility that individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) could predict those individuals who would experience attentional disruptions and performance decrements under pressure. Two WMC groups performed a Stroop handgun task under counterbalanced conditions of threat whilst wearing eye-tracking equipment that measured visual search activity and quiet eye (QE) aiming duration. Performance was measured in terms of shooting accuracy. Low-WMC individuals experienced impaired visual search time to locate the target and reduced QE durations when shooting at incongruent target words. Furthermore, the low-WMC group experienced significant reductions in shooting accuracy when anxious. Conversely, high-WMC individuals experienced no significant differences in attentional control or performance across congruency or threat conditions. Results support the suggestion that WMC is not only a good predictor of an individual’s ability to control their attention but can also predict those likely to fail under pressure.


Visual Search Target Word Attentional Control Work Memory Capacity Work Memory Capacity Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (WMV 2262 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health SciencesLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.College of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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