Facilitating performance under pressure
: Exploring the nature of coping strategies used across various performance domains to manage stress

  • Darryl Taphouse

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In various performance domains, individuals are expected to perform at optimal standards under the influence of psychological pressure. When performing under psychological pressure, individuals are susceptible to experiencing psychological and physiological stress states that can either benefit or impair performance. To successfully perform the cognitive and / or motor skills required for optimal performance under pressure, individuals in different domains are required to have the self-regulatory capabilities to cope with stress. While there is a wealth of research regarding coping across performance domains, there is a scarcity of research that compares the nature of coping strategies used by individuals who operate in different high-pressure domains. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the nature of coping strategies used by expert performers from several high-pressure domains to manage stress and facilitate performance under pressure. Seven expert performers (5 male and 2 female) were purposely selected from surgical, military, law enforcement, music, and sport performance domains. Participants were interviewed on an individual basis, to explore lived experiences of coping strategies used to manage stress when facilitating performance under pressure. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to theme the response data. Eight superordinate themes emerged from the data: perceived challenges, preparedness, personal responsibility, adaptability, support mechanisms, individual factors, perceived coping effect, and coping strategy development. Findings are discussed in relation to associated theoretical application, and the implications of inter-professional learning for psychologists working in different high-pressure performance domains.
Date of Award20 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorStewart Cotterill (Supervisor)


  • Psychology
  • Performance
  • Pressure
  • Stress
  • Coping
  • Inter-professional
  • Psychologist

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