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Jennifer Cumming and Craig Hall

The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of competitive level on athletes’ use of imagery in the off-season and to examine whether their use of imagery was related to their physical and technical preparation. A total of 324 athletes completed a modified version of the Sport Imagery Questionnaire (SIQ; Hall, Mack, Paivio, & Hausenblas, 1998) that was designed to reflect an athletes’ use of imagery in the off-season. MANOVAs indicated that competitive level differences existed in athletes’ use of imagery in the offseason as well as in their use of physical and technical preparation for the upcoming season. More specifically, provincial and national level athletes engaged in significantly more imagery, regardless of the function, and physical and technical preparation than regional level athletes. In addition, bivariate correlations indicated that the more physical and technical preparation athletes engage in during the off-season, the more imagery they use.

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Sanna M. Nordin and Jennifer Cumming

The effects of imagery direction on self-efficacy and performance in a dart throwing task were examined. Two imagery types were investigated: skill-based cognitive specific (CS) and confidence-based motivational general-mastery (MG-M). Seventy-five novice dart throwers were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: (a) facilitative imagery, (b) debilitative imagery, or (c) control. After 2 imagery interventions, the debilitative imagery group rated their self-efficacy significantly lower than the facilitative group and performed significantly worse than either the facilitative group or the control group. Efficacy ratings remained constant across trials for the facilitative group, but decreased significantly for both the control group and the debilitative group. Performance remained constant for the facilitative and the control groups but decreased significantly for the debilitative group. Similar to Short et al. (2002), our results indicate that both CS and MG-M imagery can affect self-efficacy and performance.

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Sanna M. Nordin and Jennifer Cumming

In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 male and female professional dancers from several dance forms. Interviews were primarily based in the 4 Ws framework (Munroe, Giacobbi, Jr., Hall, & Weinberg, 2000), which meant exploring Where, When, Why, and What dancers image. A dimension describing How the dancers employed imagery also emerged. What refers to imagery content, and emerged from two categories: Imagery Types and Imagery Characteristics. Why represents the reason an image is employed and emerged from five categories: Cognitive Reasons, Motivational Reasons, Artistic Reasons, Healing Reasons, and No reason - Triggered Imagery. There were also large individual differences reported regarding What images were used and Why. Many new insights were gained, including several imagery types and reasons not commonly discussed in sport and exercise.

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Sarah E. Williams and Jennifer Cumming

This research aimed to develop and provide initial validation of the Sport Imagery Ability Questionnaire (SIAQ). The SIAQ assesses athletes’ ease of imaging different types of imagery content. Following an extensive pilot study, 375 athletes completed a 20-item SIAQ in Study 1. Exploratory factor analysis revealed a 4-factor model assessing skill, strategy, goal, and affect imagery ability. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) established this 4-factor structure in Study 2 (N = 363 athletes). In Study 3 (N = 438 athletes), additional items were added to create a fifth mastery imagery subscale that was confirmed through CFA. Study 4 (N = 220 athletes) compared the SIAQ to the Movement Imagery Questionnaire-3. Significant bivariate correlations (p < .05) confirmed the SIAQ’s concurrent validity but demonstrated differences in imagery ability of different content. Overall, the SIAQ demonstrates good factorial validity, internal and temporal reliability, invariance across gender, and an ability to distinguish among athletes of different competitive levels. Findings highlight the importance of separately assessing imagery ability of different content.

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Jennifer L. Cumming and Diane M. Ste-Marie

The primary purpose of this study was to use synchronized skaters to examine the influence of imagery perspective on the cognitive and motivational functions of imagery during a five-week imagery training program. To this end, 16 novice synchronized skaters participated in an imagery intervention that incorporated both cognitive and motivational imagery. The Sport Imagery Questionnaire (SIQ: Hall, Mack, Paivio, & Hausenblas, 1998) was used to assess changes in the skaters’ use of cognitive and motivational images as a result of the training program. The results of a MANOVA indicated that skaters increased their use of cognitive specific and cognitive general imagery, regardless of their preferred imagery perspective. Furthermore, neither group showed changes in their use of imagery for motivational functions. The findings are discussed within the context of Hardy’s (1997) proposal that a particular imagery perspective is beneficial for the learning and performance of motor skills if it provides visual information that is otherwise not available to the performer.

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Jennifer Cumming, Tom Olphin and Michelle Law

The aim of the present study was to examine self-reported psychological states and physiological responses (heart rate) experienced during different motivational general imagery scenarios. Forty competitive athletes wore a standard heart rate monitor and imaged five scripts (mastery, coping, anxiety, psyching up, and relaxation). Following each script, they reported their state anxiety and self-confidence. A significant increase in heart rate from baseline to imagery was found for the anxiety, psyching-up, and coping imagery scripts. Furthermore, the intensity of cognitive and somatic anxiety was greater and perceived as being more debilitative following the anxiety imagery script. The findings support Lang’s (1977, 1979) proposal that images containing response propositions will produce a physiological response (i.e., increase heart rate). Moreover, coping imagery enabled the athletes to simultaneously experience elevated levels of anxiety intensity and thoughts and feelings they perceived as helpful.

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Sanna M. Nordin-Bates, Jennifer Cumming, Danielle Aways and Lucinda Sharp

The present study investigated perfectionism prevalence and its relationship to imagery and performance anxiety. Two hundred and fifty (N = 250) elite students (66.4% female; M age = 19.19, SD = 2.66) studying mainly classical ballet or contemporary dance in England, Canada, and Australia completed questionnaires assessing perfectionism, imagery, and performance anxiety. Cluster analysis revealed three distinct cohorts: dancers with perfectionistic tendencies (40.59% of the sample), dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies (44.35%), and dancers with no perfectionistic tendencies (15.06%). Notably, these labels are data driven and relative; only eight dancers reported high absolute scores. Dancers with perfectionistic tendencies experienced more debilitative imagery, greater cognitive and somatic anxiety, and lower self-confidence than other dancers. Dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies reported midlevel scores for all constructs and experienced somatic anxiety as being more debilitative to performance than did those with no perfectionistic tendencies. Clusters were demographically similar, though more males than females reported no perfectionistic tendencies, and vice versa. In summary, the present findings suggest that “true” perfectionism may be rare in elite dance; however, elements of perfectionism appear common and are associated with maladaptive characteristics.

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Jennifer Cumming, Sanna M. Nordin, Robin Horton and Scott Reynolds

The study investigated the impact of varying combinations of facilitative and debilitative imagery and self-talk (ST) on self-efficacy and performance of a dart-throwing task. Participants (N = 95) were allocated to 1 of 5 groups: (a) facilitative imagery/facilitative ST, (b) facilitative imagery/debilitative ST, (c) debilitative imagery/facilitative ST, (d) debilitative imagery/debilitative ST, or (e) control. Mixed-design ANOVAs revealed that performance, but not self-efficacy, changed over time as a function of the assigned experimental condition. Participants in the debilitative imagery/debilitative ST condition worsened their performance, and participants in the facilitative imagery/facilitative ST condition achieved better scores. These findings demonstrate that a combination of facilitative imagery and ST can enhance performance whereas debilitative imagery and ST can hamper it.

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Maria-Christina Kosteli, Jennifer Cumming and Sarah E. Williams

Limited research has investigated exercise imagery use in middle-aged and older adults and its relationship with affective and behavioral correlates. The study examined the association between self-regulatory imagery and physical activity (PA) through key social cognitive variables. Middle-aged and older adults (N = 299; M age = 59.73 years, SD = 7.73, range = 50 to 80) completed self-report measures assessing self-regulatory imagery use, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, perceived barriers, self-regulatory behavior, enjoyment, and PA levels. Path analysis supported a model (χ² [14] = 21.76, p = .08, CFI = .99, TLI = .97, SRMR = .03, RMSEA = .04) whereby self-regulatory imagery positively predicted self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and self-regulatory behaviors. Furthermore, self-regulatory imagery indirectly predicted barriers, outcome expectations, self-regulation, enjoyment, and PA. This research highlights self-regulatory imagery as an effective strategy in modifying exercise-related cognitions and behaviors. Incorporating social cognitive constructs into the design of imagery interventions may increase PA engagement.

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Sarah E. Williams, Jennifer Cumming and George M. Balanos

The present study investigated whether imagery could manipulate athletes’ appraisal of stress-evoking situations (i.e., challenge or threat) and whether psychological and cardiovascular responses and interpretations varied according to cognitive appraisal of three imagery scripts: challenge, neutral, and threat. Twenty athletes (M age = 20.85; SD = 1.76; 10 female, 10 male) imaged each script while heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output were obtained using Doppler echocardiography. State anxiety and self-confidence were assessed following each script using the Immediate Anxiety Measures Scale. During the imagery, a significant increase in heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output occurred for the challenge and threat scripts (p < .05). Although there were no differences in physiological response intensities for both stress-evoking scripts, these responses, along with anxiety symptoms, were interpreted as facilitative during the challenge script and debilitative during the threat script. Results support using imagery to facilitate adaptive stress appraisal.