Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Human Movement Science


If individuals wish to change or self-regulate their behaviour then it is necessary to self-monitor existing behaviours. Current self-monitoring theory embodies two principles which suggest that: 1. for difficult tasks, positive self-monitoring improves performance, while negative self-monitoring impairs performance, and 2. for easy tasks, positive self-monitoring impairs performance, while negative self-monitoring improves performance. However, the effect of implementing the various self-monitoring strategies as task complexity changes is unknown. The project consisted of a series of three studies that enlisted 42 university student subjects, 17 males and 25 females (M = 24.8 yrs.). The first study ascertained subjects' performance scores and perceptions of difficulty for five levels of a computer game task. This evaluation was undertaken to establish subject-validated 'difficult' and 'easy' tasks. Subjects perceived the easy task to be significantly easier than their performance scores indicated (p<.05). In Experiment 2, subjects performed 100 trials on either the difficult or easy computer game task using one of three allocated self-monitoring styles. These were: 1. positive self-monitoring (i.e., recording skill success); 2. negative self-monitoring (i.e., recording lack of skill success), and 3. a group in which did not monitor their performance. Before and after the 100 trials, subjects completed inventories to determine their perceptions of task difficulty, cognitive arousal, and expectancies for success. Subjects' attributions were measured after completing the 100 trials. Results indicated that performance scores for the positive self-monitoring group were not superior to negative self-monitors for the difficult task (p > .05). In the easy task condition negative self-monitors were superior to positive self-monitors. Corresponding to the superior performance negative affect decreased (p < .05), expectancies were increased (p < .001) and attributions became less external (p < .05), more internal (p < .01), stable (p < .01) and controllable (p < .01). Experiment 3 determined the effectiveness of implementing different self-monitoring strategies as the complexity of the task changed. Results indicated that it was possible to change: 1. from positively self-monitoring for the difficult task to negatively self-monitoring for the easy task (p< .001), and 2. from negatively self-monitoring for the easy task to positively self-monitoring for the difficult task (p < .05). If individuals' perceptions of task difficulty or their performance scores indicate that the criterion task is difficult, then they should employ a positive self-monitoring cognitive strategy. However, if individuals determine that the criterion task is easy, then a negative self-monitoring cognitive strategy should be employed. The sequencing of self-monitoring strategies under differing degrees of task difficulty should now lead to more precise models of self-monitoring in the self-regulation of behaviour, and to more effective proposals for promoting effective self-regulation, especially when performing sport skills of varying complexity.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.