The effect of imagery on self-efficacy for a motor skill




McKenzie, Alexander Duncan

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Two studies were conducted to investigate the effect of mental imagery training on the magnitude and strength of individuals' self-efficacy for a dart throwing task, and to compare the utility of single-subject and group design studies in investigating imagery in the motor skill domain. The first study employed a multiple-baseline-across-subjects design, in which six (n=6) subjects were administered a 15-session mental imagery training program following baseline sessions of varying lengths. The first ten imagery training sessions included a three minute relaxation component, followed by four minutes of specific imagery training (incorporating self-perception imagery and imagery vividness and controllability training). Subjects were then asked to stand, perform a one minute centering exercise, and to image successful performance of the task. This was immediately followed by the completion of a self-efficacy and imagery rating scale, and actual performance of the task while blindfolded. Two subjects showed that their self-efficacy magnitude for the task had increased as a result of the intervention, one subject demonstrated an increase in self-efficacy strength due to imagery training, and all subjects evidenced a change in their overall pattern of performance from the baseline to intervention phases. The second study used a more traditional group design in which nineteen (n=19) randomly assigned subjects were administered a similar 15-session mental imagery training program. These subjects were compared to a control group of nineteen (n=19) subjects on their ratings of self-efficacy magnitude and strength prior to, immediately following, and eight days after the completion of the imagery intervention. For this study, the intervention differed from the multiple-baseline study, in that the subjects were not required to complete the self-efficacy or imagery rating scales on each day of the intervention, and were not required to physically perform the task. Two 2 x 3 Analyses of variance showed no significant differences between the control and experimental groups on ratings of self-efficacy magnitude or strength. It was concluded from the multiple-baseline study that imagery was able to enhance self-efficacy for the dart throwing task in subjects who were high ability imagers, had previous experience at throwing darts, believed in the performance-enhancing capabilities of mental imagery training, and had been exposed to relaxation and imagery procedures prior to the study. It was concluded from the group design study however, that imagery had no effect on self-efficacy for the dart throwing task for subjects who had previous experience at imagery training, and who believed in the potential for imagery to enhance performance. A comparison of the two designs demonstrated the effectiveness of the single-subject design study in more fully investigating imagery's effect on various aspects of motor skill performance. In particular, the importance of high imagery ability, the use of more task specific measures of imagery ability, and the possibility that performance-based sources of efficacy information may be the only avenue for enhancing self-efficacy for certain individuals, were issues that were raised as a result of the single-subject design study. It was further concluded that the systematic use of such designs provided a practical, relevant and comprehensive evaluation of the effect of imagery on aspects of motor skill performance, although the complementary use of both types of research was recommended.



Motor ability, Movement, Psychology of, Imagery (Psychology), Perception