There is a shortage of evidence regarding exactly how mental imagery works to enhance performance. This study sought to determine whether it is the imagining of the task that is crucial or simply the positive aspects of a mental image. In the first experiment, 52 male students used task relevant imagery, task irrelevant imagery, or a distraction control procedure before performing an analogue task. Those in the task relevant condition showed significantly greater improvements over baseline. The second experiment involved 142 male students and included assessment of mood state following psyching up. Again the task relevant group showed significantly greater improvements, which were not related to mood states. These findings suggest that the specific content of mental imagery is crucial in determining its effect on performance. The effect does not appear to depend on alterations of mood state and may operate through cognitive preparation.
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.
Vellapandian Ponnusamy, Michelle Guerrero and Jeffrey J. Martin
The quintessential goal of most sport psychology consultants is to teach athletes how to achieve optimal performance in any given circumstance. This is often accomplished through the implementation of a psychological skills training (PST) program wherein a set of psychological strategies (e.g., imagery
Pamela S. Highlen and Bonnie B. Bennett
Elite wrestlers (n = 39) and divers (n = 44), representing open- and closed-skill sports, respectively, completed a survey assessing psychological factors associated with training and competition. Of particular interest were factors distinguishing qualifiers from nonqualifiers within and between each sport type. Discriminant analyses and t-tests revealed that as expected self-confidence and concentration distinguished qualifiers from nonqualifiers in both sport groups. Also, as predicted, use of imagery differentiated only the qualifying from the nonqualifying divers. Self-talk items also distinguished the two diving groups on more items than they differentiated the wrestlers. However, when all elite divers were compared with their wrestling counterparts, no differences were found for the imagery scale and self-talk frequency, instruction, and praise items. Anticipatory anxiety patterns for divers and wrestlers were different, with successful divers and less successful wrestlers reporting higher precompetition levels of anxiety. During competition nonqualifiers across sport type reported higher anxiety. Implications for a sport-specific typology of psychological characteristics are discussed.
Daniel Gould, Robert Weinberg and Allen Jackson
Two experiments were conducted to determine if different mental preparation strategies produced differential strength performance and whether arousal was the major mediating variable explicating this relationship. In the first experiment, 15 male and 15 female subjects performed under five different mental preparation conditions in a 2 × 5 (sex by mental preparation strategy) Latin square design. The mental preparation conditions included: attentional focus, imagery, preparatory arousal, a control-rest condition, and a counting backwards cognitive-distraction condition. Immediately after employing each technique, all subjects performed four trials on a leg-strength task, and measures of state anxiety and other cognitions were then obtained. The findings revealed that the preparatory arousal and imagery techniques produced the greatest change in performance, with preparatory arousal subjects also reporting the greatest changes in cognitive states. However, due to the possibility of range effects resulting from the within-subjects design used in Experiment I, a second between-subjects experiment was conducted. Thirty males and 30females performed in a 2 × 3 (sex by mental preparation) design using the preparatory arousal, imagery and control conditions of Experiment 1. Only the preparatory arousal condition was found to facilitate performance. However, no consistent changes in cognitive states were found between experiments, and these inconsistent findings were interpreted as being caused by methodological problems associated with self-report assessment of cognitive states.
Pamela S. Highlen and Bonnie B. Bennett
Elite wrestlers (N = 39) were given a standardized questionnaire during final competition for positions on three Canadian World Wrestling teams. The questionnaire specifically focused upon psychological factors affecting both their training and competition. For data analysis, questionnaire items were combined into 17 factors. Both t-tests and simple discriminant function analyses for qualifier/nonqualifier competitive status revealed that self-confidence was the most important factor distinguishing the two groups. For the discriminant function analysis, Imagery and Factors Affecting Performance were the only factors which did not contribute to group differences. Explanations and implications of these results for sport psychology are discussed.
Robert L. Wilkes and Jeffery J. Summers
The effectiveness of five types of cognitive preparation on strength performance was examined in a 2 X 5 (Pre- and Posttest × Mental Preparation Condition) design, with repeated measures on pre-posttest. The mental preparation conditions were: arousal, attention, imagery, self-efficacy, and a control read condition. Immediately following the posttest trials, subjects completed a questionnaire measuring various cognitive states. The results showed that preparatory arousal and self-efficacy techniques produced significantly greater posttest strength performance than the control group. Analysis of the postexperimental questionnaire data suggested that a general effect of the preparation strategies used was to focus attention on the task to be performed. It was concluded that the effectiveness of a particular cognitive strategy may depend on the nature of the task to be performed and the particular aspects of the task to which attention is directed.
John B. Bartholomew
This experiment was designed to examine the effects of resistance exercise on a manipulated preexercise mood. Participants were 40 undergraduate males who were randomly assigned to either resistance exercise or no-exercise, placebo activity. Prior to each session, participants were exposed to 1 of 3 mood inductions: positive, negative, or neutral, each of which was induced through the use of guided imagery. Resistance exercisers in the control condition reported increased anxiety and anger within 5 nun postexercise. This quickly dissipated, with anxiety falling below baseline values within 30 min postexercise. Neither condition was able to maintain the manipulated positive mood. Likewise, both conditions reduced the manipulated negative mood. However, the mood-enhancing effect of the placebo activity plateaued within 15 min. while the anxiolytic effect of exercise continued throughout recovery.
Patsy Tremayne and Robert J. Barry
This study investigated cardiac and electrodermal responses in competitive gymnasts differing in levels of trait anxiety and repression. The research strategy was to seek differences in tonic and phasic physiological measures that occurred in association with differences in state and/or trait anxiety levels, and then to investigate whether similar differences were associated with differences in levels of repression. Two task conditions were employed: A resting baseline session was counterbalanced with an imagery session in which subjects were requested to image their current team routine in real time. For half of each session, subjects were instructed to either count (relevant) stimuli or ignore (irrelevant) stimuli. The results established a number of psychophysiological differences between groups differing on state and trait anxiety. Similar differences as a result of repression were not obtained, raising questions about the validity of the construct of “repression” in this context. There were some small effects, however, suggesting that repression may affect components of attentional processing in different situations.
Daniel T. Bishop, Costas I. Karageorghis and Georgios Loizou
The main objectives of this study were (a) to elucidate young tennis players’ use of music to manipulate emotional states, and (b) to present a model grounded in present data to illustrate this phenomenon and to stimulate further research. Anecdotal evidence suggests that music listening is used regularly by elite athletes as a preperformance strategy, but only limited empirical evidence corroborates such use. Young tennis players (N = 14) were selected purposively for interview and diary data collection. Results indicated that participants consciously selected music to elicit various emotional states; frequently reported consequences of music listening included improved mood, increased arousal, and visual and auditory imagery. The choice of music tracks and the impact of music listening were mediated by a number of factors, including extramusical associations, inspirational lyrics, music properties, and desired emotional state. Implications for the future investigation of preperformance music are discussed.