Examining factors affecting children's use of active play imagery


There has been an impressive amount of research examining the factors that influence imagery use (Munroe-Chandler & Guerrero, 2016). Within the exercise setting, factors such as exercise frequency, gender, and dispositional characteristics have been shown to influence adults' imagery. For instance, researchers have found that: (a) more physically active adults use imagery more frequently than less physically active adults (Cumming, 2008); (b) female exercisers report more images of their appearance than male exercisers (Gammage et al., 2000); and (c) females who are externally motivated to exercise use imagery less frequently than their intrinsically motivated counterparts (Wilson et al., 2003). The purpose of the present study was to gain a better understanding of the factors that could influence children's imagery use in their active play (i.e., unstructured leisure-time physical activity). These factors included age, gender, imagery ability, and levels of physical activity. Fifty-nine participants (36 females, 23 males) with a mean age of 10.24 years (SD = .80) completed questionnaires that assessed their levels of physical activity, use of active play imagery, and imagery ability. Regression analyses revealed that levels of physical activity positively predicted imagery use, accounting for 29% of the variance. Results also indicated that gender, age, and imagery ability were not significant predictors of imagery use. In sum, the results showed that more physically active children reported more images of being physically competent. The findings highlight the need to further examine individual differences that may influence children's active play imagery.

Acknowledgments: Social Science and Humanities Research Council