The present study examined the impact of suppressive imagery (i.e., trying to avoid a particular error), the frequency of this suppression, and attempts to replace negative error-ridden images with positive ones on golf putting performance. Novice golfers (N = 126) were assigned to a no-imagery control group or to 1 of 6 groups in a 3 × 2 design, with imagery type (positive, suppression, suppression-replacement) and imagery frequency (before every putt, before every third putt) as factors. Results showed that the accuracy of the positive imagery group improved across imaging blocks—regardless of imagery frequency. The suppression and suppression-replacement imagery groups’ accuracy improved when imaging before every third putt, yet declined when imaging before every putt. These findings suggest that frequent application of suppressive imagery hurts performance and that attempting to replace negative images with corrective ones does not ameliorate the damage.
Sian L. Beilock is with the Depts. of Psychology and Kinesiology, Michigan State University, Rm. 236 Psychology Research Bldg, East Lansing, MI 48824; James A. Afremow is with the Dept. of Kinesiology; Amy L. Rabe and Thomas H. Carr are with the Dept. of Psychology.