Influence of visual illusion and attentional focusing instruction in motor performance

David Marchant, Evelyn Carnegie, Greg Wood, Paul Ellison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
260 Downloads (Pure)


The present study examined the individual and combined influences of two factors that have been shown to benefit motor performance: an external focus of attention and the visual context of a target being aimed for. In a within-subjects design participants completed golf putts using control (C), internal (IN) and external (EX) attentional focus (AF) instructions under target-based visual illusion (perceptually larger (PLT) versus smaller (PST) targets) conditions. Twenty-six novice golfers completed six putts in each counterbalanced condition. Mean radial accuracy (cm) was calculated. Through the use of surrounding distracting visual stimulus, an Ebbinghaus illusion aimed to induce PLT or PST during putting. Verbal instruction directed attention to C (no specific focus), IN (arm movements) or EX (movement effect focus) focuses prior to execution. The Ebbinghaus illusions significantly altered perceived target size. Significant main effects indicated: (1) greater accuracy in EX (PLT: 27.32 vs. PST 31.46 cm) vs. IF (30.50 vs. 39.82 cm) and C (32.11 vs. 36.97 cm); (2) accuracy was benefited when putting towards the PLT vs. PST. No AF × Illusion interaction was evident. Performance was independently affected by AF and target visual context (e.g. perceived target size), suggesting different mechanisms in motor execution: instructions influence the control of movement whereas the target conditions inform motor planning through perceptual and motivational variables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-669
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date15 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019


  • external focus
  • enhanced expectancies
  • visual perception
  • golf putting


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of visual illusion and attentional focusing instruction in motor performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this