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Imagery Training to Enhance Performance and Wellbeing

   School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

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  Dr S Williams  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Imagery can regulate stress and improve performance and wellbeing in a variety of populations. However, imagery's effectiveness can be determined by an individual's imagery ability. Indeed, imagery can be more effective for individuals who possess a higher imagery ability compared to their lower-level counterparts. One technique that can increase imagery ability is Layered Stimulus Response Training (LSRT; Cumming et al., 2016). Based on Lang's (1979) Bioinformational Theory, LSRT builds up the vividness and detail of an image using a layering approach which makes the image easier to generate, transform, and maintain to serve the desired outcomes. Importantly, LSRT can increase imagery ability to a greater extent than regular imagery practice and leads to more effective imagery use (Williams et al., 2013; Weibull et al., 2017). It has also been suggested that LSRT could be an effective technique to alter appraisals of stressful scenarios and change feelings and emotional responses. However, research has yet to examine this.

Project Aims

Despite the apparent effectiveness of LSRT, research has yet to fully establish its potential. This includes uncovering who might gain most from LSRT as well as establishing different ways the intervention can be (most) effectively administered to achieve different outcomes.

Consequently, the aim of the PhD project is to plan and carry out a series of studies that will establish the effectiveness of Layered Stimulus Response Training in different populations (e.g., students, athletes) for a variety of outcomes (e.g., regulating stress). It will also examine different variations of how the intervention can be effectively delivered and establish when certain delivery methods are more effective. The specific aims of the studies and target populations have been left open to be determined by the successful applicant.

Academic requirements:

Applicants who have a 1st or a 2.1 undergraduate degree in sport and exercise science, psychology, or another related field are eligible. A Master's degree in an appropriate subject area will be an advantage. Experience conducting quantitative and/or qualitative research is required and experience delivering interventions is desirable. Those with degrees abroad may be eligible if their qualifications are deemed equivalent to any of the above. Due to the nature of the PhD, the successful candidate must also have good people skills and enjoy working and interacting with others.

For further information please contact Dr Sarah Williams ([Email Address Removed])

Application Process

To be considered for this PhD, please check you are eligible and then submit your CV along with a research proposal, two academic reference letters, previous degree transcripts, as well as indicate your planned funding source. The research proposal should detail the studies you could conduct as part of your PhD. While these could change, please be realistic with your ideas and carefully consider how you would be adding new knowledge to the research area. 

Funding Notes

There is no funding associated with this project. Students must arrange funding themselves.


Cumming, J., Cooley, S. J., Anuar, N., Kosteli, M., Quinton, M. L., Weibull, F., & Williams, S. E. (2017). Developing imagery ability effectively: A guide to Layered Stimulus Response Training. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 8, 23-33. Doi: 10.1080/21520704.2016.1205698.
Weibull, F., Cumming, J., Cooley, S., Williams, S., & Burns, V. (2017). Examining the feasibility of a short intervention for improving exercise imagery ability. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 12(1), 20160008, Doi:
Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2013). Layered stimulus response training improves motor imagery ability and movement execution. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, 60-71.

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