Murphy, S. M., Woolfolk, R. L., & Budney, A. J. (1988). The effects of emotive imagery on strength performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10, 334-345.

Male college students (N = 24) were asked to select three different images they thought would make them angry, fearful, or relaxed. After imagining each scenario, Ss attempted a strength task using a hand grip dynamometer.

Relaxation imagery lowered strength performance. In the fear and anger imagery conditions, although reporting increased arousal, there was no concomitant strength increase.

It was suggested that preparatory arousal is effective only if Ss focus their attention while aroused on a successful outcome of performance. Arousal could be even more effective if the accompanying thoughts were on the intended processes of initial performance.

Implication. Emotive imagery is appropriate for developing particular emotive sets. When arousal is increased, unless that extra "energy" can be harnessed in a task-specific manner, performance increases will not necessarily occur. Thus, heightened arousal prior to the start of a competition should be accompanied by task-relevant process-thinking that will channel the extra energy into accurate and enhanced movements.

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