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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.

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Sarah E. Williams, Sam J. Cooley and Jennifer Cumming

This study aimed to test Lang’s bioinformational theory by comparing the effects of layered stimulus and response training (LSRT) with imagery practice on improvements in imagery ability and performance of a motor skill (golf putting) in 24 novices (age, M = 20.13 years; SD = 1.65; 12 female) low in imagery ability. Participants were randomly assigned to a LSRT (introducing stimulus and response propositions to an image in a layered approach), motor imagery (MI) practice, or visual imagery (VI) practice group. Following baseline measures of MI ability and golf putting performance, the LSRT and MI practice groups imaged successfully performing the golf putting task 5 times each day for 4 days whereas the VI practice group imaged the ball rolling into the hole. Only the LSRT group experienced an improvement in kinesthetic MI ability, MI ability of more complex skills, and actual golf putting performance. Results support bioinformational theory by demonstrating that LSRT can facilitate visual and kinesthetic MI ability and reiterate the importance of imagery ability to ensure MI is an effective prime for movement execution.

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Robert S. Weinberg, Thomas G. Seabourne and Allen Jackson

The present investigation attempted to determine whether imagery combined with relaxation (VMBR) is more effective in facilitating karate performance than either imagery or relaxation alone. Each subject (N = 32) was randomly assigned to either a VMBR, relaxation, imagery, or attention-placebo control condition in a one-way design. During the first day of the karate class (which met twice a week), each group was individually provided with an explanation of how to practice their assigned strategy at home. Trait anxiety tests were administered at the beginning and the end of the 6-week test period. In addition, performance tests were administered at the end of the testing period along with precompetitive state anxiety. Trait anxiety results indicated that all subjects displayed a reduction in trait anxiety over the course of the testing period. State anxiety results indicated that the VMBR and relaxation groups exhibited lower levels of state anxiety than the imagery and attention-control groups. Performance was broken down into three subareas which consisted of skill, combinations, and sparring (actual competition). Results only showed an effect for sparring, with VMBR group exhibiting better performance than all other groups.

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Gail Kendall, Dennis Hrycaiko, Garry L. Martin and Tom Kendall

This study investigated the effects of an imagery rehearsal, relaxation, and self-talk package on the performance of a specific defensive basketball skill during competition. Subjects were four female intercollegiate basketball players. A single-subject multiple-baseline-across-individuals design was employed to evaluate the intervention package. The intervention was clearly effective in enhancing a basketball skill during games, and social validity measures were very positive. The need for further research in this area is discussed.

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Lynn Dale Housner

Subjects (N = 29) classified as high or low visual imagers (highs and lows, respectively) viewed and reproduced six filmed examples of motoric stimuli constructed by combining a variety of leg, trunk, arm, and head movements. The motor stimuli represented three levels of complexity (4, 7, and 10 components) and two levels of orientation (model facing subject or facing away). Highs and lows were randomly assigned to one of two experimental groups: (a) one viewing of the stimuli, or (b) two viewings of the stimuli. The experimental design was a 2×2×2× 3 (imagery ability x viewings X orientation x complexity) factorial with repeated measures on the third and fourth factors. Analysis of the data revealed significant main effects for imagery ability, F(l,25) = 6.41, p < .018, where highs reproduced the stimuli with less error than lows, and viewings, F(l,25) = 25.58, p < .001, where two viewings resulted in less recall error than one viewing. Also, the orientation by complexity interaction was found to be significant, F(2,50) = 25.51, p < .001, and indicated that recall accuracy was best when the model was facing away, but only for movement sequences of seven components. The findings suggest that visual imagery may play a role in the recall of modeled motoric stimuli.

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Martha L. Epstein

This study examined the relationship of internal and external imaginal rehearsal and imaginal style to skilled motor behavior. Dart throwing was used as the dependent measure of physical performance. All subjects were randomly assigned to a control group, an internal mental rehearsal group, or an external mental rehearsal group. After assessing baseline performance, subjects were instructed to mentally rehearse before throwing sets of three darts. Control subjects were given a distracting task prior to throws. The results showed a slight, negative relation between spontaneous external imagery and physical performance. The mental rehearsal factor, however, was not significant. Males significantly outperformed females, and imagery groups had more variability in improvement scores than the control group for women but not for men. It was proposed that females' lower dart-throwing ability may have caused mental practice to be distracting for some subjects, and thus increased improvement variability in the mental rehearsal group. Conclusions regarding the concept of imaginal style as well as the negative relation between motor performance and the propensity to use external imagery were offered.

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Bang Hyun Kim, Roberta A. Newton, Michael L. Sachs, Peter R. Giacobbi Jr. and Joseph J. Glutting

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 6-wk intervention that used guided relaxation and exercise imagery (GREI) to increase self-reported leisure-time exercise behavior among older adults. A total of 93 community-dwelling healthy older adults (age 70.38 ± 8.15 yr, 66 female) were randomly placed in either a placebo control group or an intervention group. The intervention group received instructions to listen to an audio compact disk (CD) containing a GREI program, and the placebo control group received an audio CD that contained 2 relaxation tracks and instructions to listen to music of their choice for 6 wk. Results revealed that listening to a GREI CD for 6 wk significantly increased self-reported leisure-time exercise behaviors (p = .03). Further exploration of GREI and its effects on other psychological variables related to perceived exercise behaviors may substantiate its effectiveness.

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Elisa C. Murru and Kathleen A. Martin Ginis

This experiment examined the effects of a possible selves intervention on self-regulatory efficacy and exercise behavior among 19 men and 61 women (M age = 21.43 years, SD = 3.28) who reported exercising fewer than 3 times per week. Participants were randomly assigned to a control condition, a hoped-for possible selves intervention condition, or a feared possible selves intervention condition. The hoped-for and feared possible selves interventions required participants to imagine themselves in the future as either healthy, regular exercisers or as unhealthy, inactive individuals, respectively. Participants in the control condition completed a quiz about physical activity. Measures of self-regulatory efficacy (scheduling, planning, goal setting, and barrier self-efficacy) were taken immediately before and after the intervention. Participants who received either possible selves intervention reported greater exercise behavior 4 weeks and 8 weeks postintervention than participants in the control group. Planning self-efficacy partially mediated the effects of the possible selves intervention on exercise behavior over the first 4 weeks of the study. These findings highlight the effectiveness of possible selves interventions for increasing exercise behavior and the role of self-regulatory processes for explaining such effects.

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Paul R. Surburg and Paul E. Turner

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John C. Andre and John R. Means