An investigation into the nature of perceptual style and body awareness in relation to perceptual-motor abilities
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The thesis is an account of an investigative study into the nature of perceptual-motor abilities. Part one considers Witkin's construct of cognitive style, using it to predict the relationships between three tests of perceptual functioning from widely varying areas of psychology and sports science. To some extent the results were as predicted; that is, those people demonstrating high levels of perceptual acuity on one test also showed similar acuity on one or more of the other perceptual tests. These results, however, only applied to the male subjects and then only when the opposite poles of one test-dimension were partitioned out and compared. The female subjects demonstrated no significant relationships between the three tests. As a result, it was proposed that the tests were indeed linked but by an array of underlying perceptual abilities rather than by a single, overlying cognitive or perceptual style. In the ensuing search for these abilities, 76 measures of perceptual and perceptual-motor skills were factor analysed to reveal 8 oblique perceptual-motor factors of which one was interpreted as being perceptual style. The nature of perceptual-motor abilities is discussed both in relation to clumsiness and to sports training with the emphasis being on whether such abilities are amenable to alteration. The thesis puts forward the proposal that an upper limit to each ability is fixed for each individual in early childhood but that this potential may be maximised through relevant training. The Perceptual-Motor Ability Profile was devised as a tool with which to indicate the aptitude a person evidenced for a particular sport or physical activity and was used in demonstration to describe the group abilities of four dancers with respect to the requirements of their chosen activity. Finally, a model of perceptual-motor functioning, relating the eight factors extracted, is suggested.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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