British Journal of Psychology

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Volume 86 Issue 2 (May 1995), Pages 161-319

Use of different imagery perspectives on the learning and performance of different motor skills (pages 169-180)

Two experiments are reported which examine the relative efficacy of different imagery perspectives on a slalom type and a gymnastic type task. Twenty‐four ablebodied sport, health and physical education students were allocated to either an internal visual imagery group or an external visual imagery group. In both experiments, subjects watched video‐recordings of someone completing the tasks, then performed five blocks of three trials with feedback after each block, and internal/external visual imagery before each trial. A transfer/retention trial was performed one week later. The tasks were a wheelchair slalom task and a pseudogymnastics routine performed using rhythmic gymnastics clubs to show static positions. The slalom task results suggested that in the retention test, the external visual imagery group focused on the speed of performance, whilst the internal visual imagery group focused on the accuracy of performance. These findings were interpreted as suggesting that internal visual imagery was more effective for the planning of action in response to changes in a visual field. However, in the gymnastics task, contrary to previous suggestions, external visual imagery was found to be more effective than internal visual imagery for both learning and subsequent retention. The roles of internal and external visual imagery are discussed in terms of task characteristics and the observational learning literature.

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