Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Craig Hall


The general purpose of this dissertation was to examine children’s active play imagery using Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002) as a theoretical basis. The research was comprised of three studies. Study 1examined how the three types of active play imagery (i.e., fun, capability, and social) were associated with the three basic psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness). A total of 253 children aged 7-14 years old completed both the Children’s Active Play Imagery Questionnaire (Cooke et al., 2014) and the Basic Need Satisfaction in Physical Activity (Gray et al., 2009). Capability imagery was found to be positively associated with competence, social imagery was positively associated with relatedness, and fun imagery was positively associated with competence. These findings provided valuable information for Study 2.

Study 2 investigated whether a 6-week imagery intervention could increase active play levels in children 9-11 years old. The study revealed the participants in the imagery group were able to maintain their active play levels (measured by pedometers) throughout the intervention, while the control group significantly decreased their active play levels from baseline to post-intervention. These findings provided support for continuing to pursue this avenue of research and informed Study 3.

Study 3 expanded upon Study 2’s intervention by lengthening the intervention to 18 weeks, having individualized imagery scripts for the participants, and using accelerometers to measure active play. A case study was conducted with two 11 year olds. The results revealed that participant 2 was able to increase her active play levels from baseline to intervention, and maintained those levels in post-intervention. Challenges were seen in regards to wear time for participant 3; however, her subjective measure of active play followed the same pattern as participant 2. The overall findings from this dissertation established that imagery can be a promising avenue for increasing children’s active play levels.

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Kinesiology Commons