Gerald D. Guthrie

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology



Physical Description

1 online resource (89 p.)


Motor ability -- Psychological aspects




An extensive review of the literature of the phenomenon of mental rehearsal (MR), or the act of imagining oneself performing a behavior in anticipation of eventually doing so, indicated that MR could facilitate improved performance on varied motor skills. An experiment which drew from previous studies in MR, incorporated suggestions from.the literature, and used a novel measurement task was conducted. The present study compared MR to physical practice (PP), no practice (NP), mental rehearsal/physical practice combined (MR/PP), and interference mental rehearsal (I). Five groups of twenty subjects (N=100) played a hand-held video computer game in a pre- and post-test design. The present study hypothesized that MR would improve performance scores in the video game task. A second hypothesis based on more recent trends in MR literature predicted that an MR/PP group might demonstrate more improvement than the PP group. A final hypothesis was that should MR/PP not exceed PP in improved performance, the rank order outcome from greatest to least improvement would be: PP, MR/PP, MR, NP, and I.

The results of the present study were in conflict with reports in the literature and the pilot study, and did not support the three hypotheses. Subjects in all five treatment groups improved performance significantly between the pre- and post-test periods, however, none of the five treatment strategies demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in performance. The I group improved more based on mean percent improvement than either the MR/PP or PP groups. The rank order prediction was not supported in that the results of greatest to least mean percent improvement were as follows: I, MR/PP, MR, NP-, and PP.

It is concluded that lack of significant improvement in performance using MR is most probably due to task related variables of complexity, unpredictability, difficulty, and the external pacing of performance that the video game task demands. The data are most consistent with literature reports which used complex and difficult tasks and ones which were paced by external task demands (i.e., the subject had to respond according to task demands rather than pacing his or her own performance). Further, the data are consistent with reports that suggest MR is less effective in unpredictable, difficult, and externally paced tasks than in ones which are predictable, leas difficult, and self-paced.


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