Conceptual and Methodological Issues in the Measurement of Mental Imagery Skills in Athletes

By Moran, Aidan | Journal of Sport Behavior, September 1993 | Go to article overview

Conceptual and Methodological Issues in the Measurement of Mental Imagery Skills in Athletes


Moran, Aidan, Journal of Sport Behavior


Mental imagery, or the capacity to represent in the mind experiences of things that are not physically present (Matlin, 1989), is attracting increased attention from sports psychologists, coaches and athletes. For example, Murphy, Jowdy & Durtschi (1989) discovered that 90% of athletes, 94% of coaches and 100% of sports psychologists in the United States report using imagery techniques regularly in their training program, a finding later corroborated by Hall, Rodgers and Barr (1990). This interest in imagery is attributable mainly to the discovery that, under appropriate circumstances (see Murphy, 1990; Smith, 1987), the imaginary rehearsal by an athlete of a motor skill can lead to improvements in its subsequent performance (i.e. the "mental practice" effect).

The typical research paradigm used in the field of mental practice involves a "before-after" treatment comparison between people who have been exposed to imagery training for a given task/sport and those in various control conditions (e.g. physical practice only). Unfortunately, little attention has been devoted to a rather obvious flaw in this strategy: What happens if the treatment effects are confounded by individual differences in imagery ability? As Hall (1985) points out, "if the subjects in an experimental condition are asked to use an imagery strategy and these subjects are all low imagers, it is likely no effect or only a small effect for the condition will be shown". Clearly, therefore, the use of imagery tests can enhance the accuracy of mental practice research by ensuring that subjects are matched for visualization abilities before experimental treatments are administered. But which imagery tests are most suitable for this purpose?

As Table 1 shows, a variety of psychological tests have been developed to measure individual differences in imagery ability. But how valid and reliable are these tests? Unless they satisfy conventional psychometric criteria, they will have only limited value to coaches and researchers who wish to design or evaluate imagery training programs for athletes. Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to evaluate the psychometric adequacy of the most popular tests available for the assessment of the mental imagery skills of athletes. A secondary objective will be to consider the principal conceptual and methodological issues encountered in imagery research.

The impetus for this paper comes from two sources. First, although there have been several reviews of imagery tests (see Anderson, 1981; Ernest, 1977; White, Sheehan & Ashton, 1977), the most recent one (by Sheehan, Ashton & White, 1983) was completed almost a decade ago. Since then, additional tests have been published which are potentially useful to athletes because of their focus on kinesthetic imagery. These measures include the Movement Imagery Questionnaire (MIQ) (Hall & Pongrac, 1983) and the Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire (VMIQ) (Isaac, Marks & Russell, 1986). Therefore, an up-to-date evaluation of imagery measures is required. The second reason for exploring this field is that research on individual differences in imagery abilities is plagued by a variety of conceptual and methodological problems. For example, Hiscock (1978) concluded that "it is not clear what imagery questionnaires really measure or what criteria are appropriate for validating them". The implications of these issues for the assessment of the visualization skills of athletes must be examined.

This paper includes a brief outline of the nature and characteristics of mental imagery, examination of the psychometric properties of the most commonly used imagery tests and analysis of the main conceptual and methodological problems afflicting imagery research in sport psychology. Finally, recommendations will be provided to enable future researchers to address these difficulties.

Mental Imagery: Nature and Characteristics

According to Solso (1991), mental imagery refers to "a mental representation of a nonpresent object or event". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conceptual and Methodological Issues in the Measurement of Mental Imagery Skills in Athletes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.