A Bundle of Nerves: With Guests Alison Wood Brooks & Steven Osborne

August 2, 2020
Can adverse emotional reactions be reframed to diminish their negative consequences?

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or copy to your RSS reader.

Transcript Open new window

After you listen

Investors run the risk of making rash decisions when anxiety and other negative emotions spike, as they often do during bouts of market volatility.

Investors run the risk of making rash decisions when anxiety and other negative emotions spike, as they often do during bouts of market volatility.

The rapid heartbeat. The shaking hands. The flushed face. The symptoms of pre-performance jitters are common. For some people, nervousness before a big test or important presentation is normal and temporary. For others, it can be debilitating. Typical suggestions for managing nerves tend to involve deep breaths and calming thoughts. But what if there were a better way?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the science behind the state of arousal commonly referred to as stage fright, including new research into better ways to manage unpleasant emotions.

You'll hear world-renowned concert pianist Steven Osborne describe the agonizing moment during an important performance when he began to experience memory lapses due to anxiety. As the fear of making mistakes increased, Steven began to worry that stage fright could cost him the career he loved. But through therapy and reflection, he managed to flip the script on his anxiety—and came to see it as a gift to be explored.

All of the piano music in this segment comes from Steven Osborne's recordings. You can hear his complete performances on Beethoven Piano Sonatas Opp 109, 110 & 111 and Prokofiev Piano Sonatas Nos 6, 7 & 8, available on Hyperion Records.

Next, Alison Wood Brooks joins Katy to talk about her fascinating research into stage fright using video game karaoke to discover the most effective techniques for managing and even leveraging pre-performance nerves.

Alison Wood Brooks is the O'Brien Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. For more on her research, you can read her paper Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-performance Anxiety as Excitement.

Finally, Katy explores other ways to regulate unpleasant emotions. These techniques can help improve outcomes for negotiations, job interviews, and schoolwork.

For more on behavioral science—including additional content from the expert interviews featured on Choiceology—you can sign up for Katy's newsletter at katymilkman.com/newsletter.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Learn more about behavioral finance. 

Does Market Timing Work?

We ran the numbers on market timing. Our findings? There's a high cost to waiting for the best entry point.

A Cup of Knowledge: With Guests A.J. Jacobs & Steven Sloman

Why do people think they understand things better than they actually do?

The Golden Misfits: With Guests Gary Lawless & Erika Kirgios

Grouping choices together so that you make a bunch of selections all at once can seem daunting, but it can help you reach your goals faster.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Apple Podcasts and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Google Podcasts and the Google Podcasts logo are trademarks of Google LLC.

Spotify and the Spotify logo are registered trademarks of Spotify AB.