Given the prevalence of inactivity among women, it is imperative to examine sources which may influence exercise behavior. Researchers have begun to examine the practical application of exercise imagery on involvement in physical activity (Giacobbi et al., 2003; Milne et al., 2008). Using the Applied Model of Imagery Use in Exercise (Munroe-Chandler & Gammage, 2005), imagery use, efficacy beliefs, and body image among female exercisers (N = 300) was investigated. Results revealed frequent use of exercise imagery, high efficacy beliefs, and positive body image cognitions among exercisers. Structural equation modeling revealed that efficacy beliefs did not mediate the relationship between imagery use and body image among a specific sample of female exercisers. However, the results do suggest that exercise imagery significantly predicts all four types of efficacy belief types (Efficacy Expectancy, Outcome Expectancy, Outcome Value, and Self-presentational Efficacy). Further examination of the suggested relationships in the applied model is needed.
Lisa Cooke and Krista Chandler
Gavin Tempest and Gaynor Parfitt
Imagery, as a cognitive strategy, can improve affective responses during moderate-intensity exercise. The effects of imagery at higher intensities of exercise have not been examined. Further, the effect of imagery use and activity in the frontal cortex during exercise is unknown. Using a crossover design (imagery and control), activity of the frontal cortex (reflected by changes in cerebral hemodynamics using near-infrared spectroscopy) and affective responses were measured during exercise at intensities 5% above the ventilatory threshold (VT) and the respiratory compensation point (RCP). Results indicated that imagery use influenced activity of the frontal cortex and was associated with a more positive affective response at intensities above VT, but not RCP to exhaustion (p < .05). These findings provide direct neurophysiological evidence of imagery use and activity in the frontal cortex during exercise at intensities above VT that positively impact affective responses.
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.
Lynne Evans, Leigh Jones and Richard Mullen
The purpose of the present study was to explore the use of imagery by an elite rugby union football player and to examine the effects of an imagery intervention in a practical performance environment. The study took place over a 14-week period of the competitive season. Data collection comprised semi-structured interviews, diaries, and the Sport Imagery Questionnaire. The findings suggested that the participant primarily used cognitive specific and cognitive general imagery. Post-intervention, the participant reported greater clarity; detail; control over his anxiety, activation, and motivation levels; an improvement in his ability to generate confidence in his playing ability prior to games; and more structure to his imagery use. The study highlighted the importance of individualizing imagery interventions to meet the specific needs of different athletes.
Zhang Li-Wei, Ma Qi-Wei, Terry Orlick and Louise Zitzelsberger
Field studies investigating the potential benefit of mental-imagery training with young children have been lacking in the literature. The purpose of this investigation was to shed light on the appropriateness of mental training for children. Three groups of 7–10-year-old table tennis players participated in this study to assess the value of mental-imagery training, specifically with respect to children’s performance enhancement. The results indicated that children who used mental imagery experienced significantly greater improvement in the accuracy and technical quality of their shots than children in comparison groups. This study suggests that mental-imagery training, combined with videotaped images and relaxation, may be particularly promising for children.
Bruce D. Hale
Mahoney and Avener's (1977) categorization of imagery into “internal” (first-person visual and kinesthetic) and “external” (third-person visual) perspectives suggested a viable means to quantifiably test Jacobson's (1931) finding that “visualizing” a biceps “curl” produced only ocular responses while “muscularly imagining” the same movement just generated localized biceps activity. A significant within-subjects main effect (p < .001) revealed that the internal imagery condition produced more integrated biceps activity than the external imagery condition as predicted by Lang's (1979) bio-informational theory of emotional imagery.
Dorothy V. Harris and William J. Robinson
This study was designed to determine if muscular innervation during imagery was specific to muscles needed for actual performance and if individuals of different skill levels utilizing two imagery perspectives demonstrated differing amounts of muscular activity. A final purpose was to assess the effectiveness of the meditation-relaxation approach used in karate training to reduce tonic activity in muscles. Beginning and advanced (N = 36) karate students were randomly assigned to counterbalanced conditions of imagery perspective (internal/external) x skill level (beginning/advanced) x side (right/left) in a factorial design. EMG data were collected from both deltoid muscles before and after a relaxation session, during and between performances of imaginary arm lifts and between imagery perspectives. Following testing, a questionnaire involving the subject's perception of success at imagery was completed. The results of this investigation suggest that skill level does influence muscle innervation during imagery and that this innervation appears specific to the muscle group necessary to execute the task. Internal imagery produces more EMG activity than external imagery. The meditation-relaxation techniques used in karate do significantly reduce tonic muscle activity.
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.
Douglas P. Jowdy and Dorothy V. Harris
The purpose of the present investigation was to determine if the magnitude of muscular activity concomitant with mental imagery is a function of motor skill level. Male undergraduates (N=38) between 18 and 24 years of age were assigned to either a high skilled (n=23) or low skilled (n = 15) group of jugglers. All subjects completed the Movement Imagery Questionnaire (MIQ) (Hall & Pongrac, 1983) and imagined themselves juggling for eight 15-second trials while the amplitude of muscular activity was measured by surface electromyography. There was a significant increase in muscular activity during mental imagery across all subjects (p<.001), but the difference between the high and low skilled groups was not significant. This lack of difference may suggest that the differential effects of imagery based upon skill level are not due to the neuromuscular activation during imagery.
Krista J. Munroe, Peter R. Giacobbi Jr., Craig Hall and Robert Weinberg
The purpose of the study was to identify and describe the four Ws of athletes’ imagery use: where, when, why, and what. Due to the in-depth nature of the questions being asked, a qualitative approach was employed. The participants were 14 elite athletes (7 male and 7 female), representing 7 different sports. A constant comparative method of analysis was conducted by two investigators. A conceptual framework was developed to display the four Ws of imagery use during and outside practice, as well as for pre-competition, competition, and post competition. Results from the present study indicated where and when athletes use imagery, and extended previous findings on why and for what athletes use imagery. It was proposed that a better understanding of the athletes’ images can serve as a guide to future research and from a practical perspective, facilitate the development of more effective imagery interventions.