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  • Author: Robert L. Woolfolk x
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Robert L. Woolfolk, Shane M. Murphy, David Gottesfeld and David Aitken

An investigation was carried out concerning the effect of imagery instructions on a simple motor skill accuracy task (putting a golf ball). Male college students (N = 50) were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions in a design that allowed the presence or absence of mental rehearsal of the physical movements involved in the task to be completely crossed with the imaginal depiction of task outcome (successful, unsuccessful, or no outcome component). A significant outcome by trials interaction was found on task performance. This finding reflected the degradation of performance in the conditions employing negative outcome imagery rather than any enhancement of performance by positive outcome imagery. Self-efficacy was found to be correlated with performance, but this association seemed to be a by-product of the strong relationships between these variables and performance on the previous trial. Results are discussed in relation to the existing literature, and future research directions are delineated.

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Shane M. Murphy, Robert L. Woolfolk and Alan J. Budney

In this study, subjects were asked to select three different images they thought would make them angry, fearful, or relaxed. After imagining each scenario, subjects attempted a strength task utilizing a hand grip dynamometer. As predicted by the Oxendine hypothesis, the relaxation image significantly lowered performance on the strength task. Although subjects in the fear and anger conditions reported increased levels of arousal, no increase in strength performance was noted in these two conditions. A cognitive interpretation of the relationship between arousal and performance is advanced in explanation of the present findings. Specifically, it is suggested that preparatory arousal is effective only if subjects focus their attention while aroused on a successful outcome of performance. This explanation is consistent with current conceptualizations of cognitive preparation strategies as coping skill devices by which athletes manage their performance. Future research directions are suggested based upon the present findings.