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.
Doris Pogue Screws and Paul R. Surburg
In order to improve motor performance, mental imagery procedures have evolved over the years with nondisabled subjects. Studies researching the concept of using mental imagery with special populations (Surburg, & Stumpner, 1987; Surburg, 1991; Surburg, Porretta, & Sutlive, 1995) are very few in number. This study examined the efficacy of using mental imagery in developing skill on a motorically oriented task (pursuit rotor) and a cognitively oriented task (peg board) on middle school students with mild mental disabilities (MMD). Thirty subjects were assigned randomly to a physical, imagery, or no-practice control group to perform either a peg board or pursuit rotor task. For each motor task, there was a pretest followed by appropriate treatment regime and a posttest session. The dependent variables were the number of pegs placed in appropriate order for the peg board task and time on target for the pursuit rotor task. Results were that imagery practice enhanced the motor performance of children with MMD on both the peg board (cognitively oriented task) and pursuit rotor (motorically oriented task).
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.
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.
Paul R. Surburg and Paul E. Turner
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.