Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Chandler, Krista


Children, Imagery, Imagery Ability, Physical Literacy




Imagery is described as a conscious internal experience and involves re-experiencing past events and/or creating never-experienced events in one’s mind (Guerrero & Munroe-Chandler, 2018). The benefits of using imagery in physical activity contexts are well-documented (see Munroe-Chandler & Guerrero, 2018). People can use imagery in both structured and less structured physical activity contexts. Children, for example, have reported using imagery in both active play (unstructured physical activity; Tobin et al., 2013) and sport (structured physical activity; Munroe-Chandler et al., 2007) settings. Children’s imagery use in active play has proven to increase motivation and physical activity participation, while children’s imagery use in sport has been shown to improve sport-specific skills and strategies, self-efficacy, and collective efficacy (see Munroe-Chandler & Guerrero, 2018). Research on children’s imagery use in both structured and unstructured settings continues to grow; however, there are a few lines of research that remain unexplored. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to extend our knowledge on children’s imagery use by examining correlates and antecedents of active play imagery, and outcomes of sport imagery. This objective was accomplished in three empirical studies. In Chapter 2 the associations between active play imagery and personal and social skills and self-confidence (correlates) were examined. The underlying aim of this study was to determine whether active play imagery was linked to children’s personal development. Result showed that the types of active imagery (capability, social, and fun) were positively linked to personal and social skills, with social imagery accounting for the most variance. Additionally, capability and fun imagery emerged as significant predictors of self-confidence, and fun imagery accounted for the most amount of variance. The overall objective of Chapter 3 was to identify whether individual differences (antecedents) in physical activity participation and imagery ability predicted children’s use of active play imagery. The primary antecedents of interest were physical activity participation and imagery ability, while age and gender served as control variables. Results of this study revealed that age and physical activity participation were positively associated with all three types of active play imagery. Furthermore, external visual imagery was positively related to fun imagery, whereas internal visual imagery and kinesthetic imagery had no associations with active play imagery. Lastly, in Chapter 4 the effects of children’s sport imagery on components of physical literacy (outcomes; i.e., motivation, confidence, perceived and actual competence) were examined. This study was conducted with two sport programs. Children in the experimental condition completed imagery sessions over four consecutive weeks while also participating in their regular weekly practices, whereas children in the control condition did not receive any imagery sessions but continued participating in their weekly practices. No group differences were found at the end of the intervention; however, children in the experimental condition did report higher scores on perceived competence and received higher scores on actual competence from pre- to postintervention. The findings of this dissertation can be used to inform future research designs, child practitioners, and physical activity programming and curriculum.