Yerkes Dodson Law Inverted U Theory: Influencers and Components

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The Inverted-U Theory
  • When people experience the right amount of pressure, they often perform brilliantly.
  • The Inverted-U Theory was created by psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson in 1908.
  • The theory describes a clear relationship between pressure and performance. In the original research, pressure was exerted by electric shocks – to motivate rats to escape from a maze!
  • The Inverted-U Theory helps you to observe and manage these four factors, aiming for a balance that supports engagement, well-being, and peak performance.
Stress Level

When the levels of pressure we՚re experiencing are right for the work we՚re doing, we՚re stimulated in a beneficial way: motivated, engaged, and excited about doing our best. But stress happens when people feel out of control, and it՚s a wholly negative thing.

Yerkes Dodson Law


  • Skill Level.
  • Personality.
  • Trait Anxiety.
  • Task Complexity.
  • For a while, a new task is likely to be challenging enough. Later, if it starts to feel too easy, some form of extra pressure might be needed to help the person re-engage with their role.
  • People with an introverted personality, on the other hand, may perform better with less pressure.
  • People who are self-confident are more likely to perform better under pressure. This is because their self-talk is under control, which means that they can stay “in flow,” and they can concentrate fully on the situation at hand.
  • By contrast, people who criticize or question themselves are likely to be distracted by their self-talk, which can cause them to lose focus in more challenging situations.
  • People can perform simple activities under quite high levels of pressure, while complex activities are better carried out in a calm, low-pressure environment.
  • To improve work quality – try to pressure off the work situations.