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Correlations and sex differences in seven sensory modalities of imagery.

Mental images are representations of people, objects, and situations that are not actually present at the time of visualizing an image (Campos, 1998; Paivio, 1979; Piaget, 1962; Richardson, 1980). Mental imagery may be classified according to the sensory organs involved, i.e., visual, auditory, cutaneous, kinaesthetic, gustatory, olfactory and organic imagery (Campos, 1998; Denis, 1984).

Imagery questionnaires and performance tests are extensively used to measure image vividness. Tulving, McNulty, and Ozier (1965), and Paivio (1965) defined vividness of imagery as the ease with which you can picture something in your mind when presented the word. The most widely used questionnaire is the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ, Mark, 1973; McKelvie, 1995), and the questionnaire most extensively used to measure image vividness in all of the sensory modalities is the abridged version (Sheehan, 1967) of the Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery (Betts, 1909).

Most mental imagery studies have focused on visual imagery, but a few have assessed the other senses. The same has occurred with imagery questionnaires, i.e., most measured visual imagery, but a few examined the mental imagery of the other senses (Campos & Perez-Fabello, 2005, 2011; Gissurarson, 1992; Richardson, 1994; Willander & Baraldi, 2010). The only questionnaire measuring the seven different types of imagery corresponding to the seven sensory modalities is the Betts' Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery (Betts' QMI; Sheehan, 1967).

Though the Betts' QMI (Sheehan, 1967) has been extensively used, the seven scales that comprise it have rarely been evaluated, as they are normally used in their totality. The only study to have examined the correlations between the scales on the questionnaire in relation to sex found significant correlations among all of the scales (Ernest, 1983). The correlations between the scales on the Betts' QMI ranged from .44 (p < .001) to .83 (p < .001) in women, and from .38 (p < .001) to .82 (p < .001) in men. White, Ashton and Law's (1974) study on the correlations between the scales in 1562 students (962 women and 600 men) found the correlations, without taking into account gender, ranged from .73 to .89 (p < .01). Sacco and Reda (1998), found correlations ranged from .55 (p < .01) to .63 (p < .01) in a sample of 201 undergraduates.

The differences between women and men regarding the vividness of mental imagery remains a controversial issue in cognitive psychology and, in spite of the numerous studies, there is no satisfactory consensus (see Richardson, 1994, for a review). For example, the numerous studies that have used the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ, Marks, 1973) have reported contradictory results. Richardson (1995) reviewed the literature and reported that women obtained slightly higher scores than men on the VVIQ, but McKelvie's (1995) review of the literature found no significant sex difference on this questionnaire.

Two of the obstacles hindering any precise determination of differences in mental imagery between women and men are the numerous types of mental imagery, and the many ways of measuring them (Blazhenkova & Kozhevnikov, 2009; Campos, 2009, 2012, 2014; Horowitz, 1983). On the whole, most measures of imagery are based either on imagery questionnaires or performance tests (see Campos, 2014, for a review). Surprisingly, correlations between imagery questionnaires and performance tests were poor or not significant (Burton & Fogarty, 2003; Campos, 2009, 2012, 2014; Ernest, 1977). Notwithstanding, the correlations between the performance tests themselves were high, and the correlations for the imagery questionnaires were also high both in women and in men, and in the group total for both genders (Burton & Fogarty, 2003; Campos, 2014; Ernest, 1983).

Few studies have examined sex in relation to scoring on each of the scales of the Betts' QMI (Ernest, 1983; Sacco & Reda, 1998; Sheehan, 1967). Whereas Sheehan (1967), the author of the questionnaire, observed no significant differences between the scores of women and men on the different scales, Ernest (1983) found that women on the visual (p < .01) and kinaesthetic (p < .05) scales reported higher imagery vividness (i.e. fewer ratings) than men, but no significant differences were observed in the other scales. In contrast, in the Italian version of the Betts' QMI (Sacco and Reda, 1998), men had higher vividness than women in auditory imagery (p < .01) and cutaneous imagery (p < .001), women had higher vividness than men in kinaesthetic imagery (p < .05) and visual imagery (p < .01), but no significant differences in sex were observed in gustatory, olfactory and organic imagery. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the correlations on each of the scales of the Betts' QMI in relation to sex, and to assess sex differences in seven sensory modalities of mental imagery.

METHOD

Participants

A group of 245 (123 women and 122 men) undergraduates of the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Santiago de Compostela, with a mean age of 19.96 years (SD = 2.05), and a range of 18-24 years, participated in the study. The mean age of women was 19.67 years (SD = 1.58), and the mean age of men was 20.24 (SD = 2.4).

Instruments

The Spanish Version (Campos & Perez-Fabello, 2005) of the Betts' QMI (Sheehan, 1967) was used in this study. The test consists of 35 items (5 from each modality) measuring image vividness in seven sensory modalities: visual, auditory, cutaneous, kinaesthetic, gustatory, olfactory, and organic. For example: (visual) "The exact countour of face, head, shoulders and body"; (auditory) "The clapping of hands in applause"; (cutaneous) "The prick of a pin"; (kinaesthetic) "Running upstairs"; (gustatory) "Salt"; (olfactory) "Cooking cabbage"; and (organic imagery) "Hunger".

Each item is scored on a 7-point scale where 1 = Perfectly clear and as vivid as the actual experience, and 7 = No image present at all; you only know that you are thinking of the object. High scores indicated low imagery and vice versa. Campos and Perez-Fabello (2005) obtained a Cronbach alpha of .92 for the total subscales.

The Betts' QMI is the only questionnaire that measures imagery vividness in seven sensory modalities, being one of the most used imagery scales worldwide (see Campos & Perez-Fabello, 1995, & Richardson, 1994, for a review). One the other hand, until now only three researchers have attempted to determine if differences exist between females and males on the different scales, and their results were contradictory. Clarifying this point is important for further research, especially research concerned with possible sex differences in imagery.

Procedure

In groups of approximately 20 students, participants were administered the Spanish Version of the Betts' QMI in their usual classrooms. All of the participants were of similar age and educational status, freely volunteered to participate in the study, and were guaranteed that their results would remain anonymous and confidential.

RESULTS

Internal consistencies (Cronbach alpha) for each of the Betts' QMI scales were: visual = .80, auditory = .76, cutaneous = .71, kinaesthetic = .82, gustatory = .74, olfactory = 76, and organic = .83. The Cronbach alpha for the total was .94. Pearson's correlation was computed to analyze the correlations between the seven sensory modalities of the Betts' QMI. The correlations are shown in Table 1. All correlations were significant (p < .001). As shown in Table 2, the correlations between the seven sensory modalities of the Betts' QMI were significant for both men and women (p < .001). The comparison of the correlations of men with the correlations of women of the seven sensory modalities revealed no significant differences.

To determine sex differences in each of the seven sensory modalities a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was performed with sex as the independent variable, and the scores of the seven sensory modalities of the Betts' QMI as the dependent variables. The means and standard deviations for each group are shown in Table 3. The MANOVA revealed sex differences between women and men in the different sensory modalities of the Betts' QMI, Wilks' lambda = .91, F(7, 237) = 3.05, p = .005, power = .94, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .095. However, the univariate analysis revealed no significant differences between women and men in the seven sensory modalities: Visual imagery, F(1, 243) = 1.23, MSE = .89. p = .27, power = .20, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .006; Auditory imagery, F(1, 243) = 2.71, MSE = 1.02, p = .10, power = .38, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .01; Cutaneous imagery, F (1, 243) = 3.04, MSE = .91, p = .08, power = .41, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .01; Kinaesthetic imagery, F(1, 243) = 02, MSE = .98, p = .89, power = .05, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .001; Gustatory imagery, F(1, 243) = .55, MSE = .94, p = .46, power = .12, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .003; Olfactory imagery, F(1, 243) = .12, MSE = 1.13, p = .73, power = .06, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .001, and Organic imagery, F(1, 243) = .54, MSE = 1.10, p = .46, power = .11, [[??].sup.2.sub.p] = .003.

DISCUSSION

The internal consistencies of the subscales of the Betts' QMI ranged between .71 and .83, lower scores than those recommended by McKelvie (1994). The minimum value recommended by McKelvie is .85. The Cronbach alpha for total subscales was high (Cronbach alpha = .94), which confirmed the result of Campos and Perez-Fabello (2005), Sacco and Reda (1998), and Wescott and Rosenstock (1976).

The assessment of the group total (both women and men) found significant correlations between the scales on the Betts' QMI, which confirmed the results of previous studies (White et al., 1974; Sacco and Reda, 1998). Moreover, significant correlations between all of the scales of the Betts' QMI were found in the scores of women and men, which confirmed the findings of Ernest (1983). No significant differences were observed in the correlations between the scales in relation to sex. This result cannot be contrasted with previous results, since there were no prior studies. Furthermore, in this study, no significant differences in sex were observed in the scores obtained on the scales of the Betts' QMI, which corroborated the work of Sheehan (1967), but disagreed with the findings of Ernest (1983), and Sacco and Reda (1998) on Italian participants.

The results of the three previous studies on sex differences on the scales of the Betts' QMI remain inconsistent, though the results of the present study agreed with those obtained by Sheehan (1967), who designed the questionnaire. Further studies are required, but these should be controlled e.g., by ensuring the same number of men and women, in order to compare the sex differences in image vividness of different sensory modalities using the same questionnaire. Further studies are required to assess the reliability and validity of the Betts' QMI (i.e., to determine what the measure can successfully predict).

REFERENCES

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Alfredo Campos

University of Santiago de Compostela

Diego Campos-Juanatey

University of A Coruna

Author info: Correspondence should be sent to: Dr. Alfredo Campos, Department of Basic Psychology, 15782. Santiago de Compostela, Spain. E-mail Alfredo.Campos@usc.es
TABLE 1 Correlations Between Seven Sensory Modalities of Betts'
QMI

               Visual   Auditory   Cut.   Kinaes.   Gustat.   Olfact.

Auditory       .56
Cutaneous      .56      .60
Kinaesthetic   .62      .64        .60
Gustatory      .47      .49        .66    .52
Olfactory      .47      .45        .54    .51       .55
Organic        .67      .50        50     .54       .51       .58

Note. All correlations were significant, p < .001

TABLE 2 Correlations Between Seven Sensory Modalities for Males
(Above Diagonal), and Females (Below Diagonal)

              Visual  Auditory  Cut.  Kinaes.  Gustat.  Olfact.  Org.

Visual                .57       .48   .57      .38      .44      .62
Auditory      .58               .61   .65      .40      .35      .43
Cutaneous     .62     .63             .55      .64      .55      .53
Kinaesthetic  .67     .64       .65            .44      .45      .55
Gustatory     .54     .59       .68   .58               .60      .54
Olfactory     .49     .52       .55   .56      .53               .64
Organic       .71     .55       .50   .54      .50      .55

Note. All correlations were significant, p < .001. All differences
among correlations were not significant.

TABLE 3 Means and Standard Deviations of the Sensory Modalities of
the Betts'QMI

                 Females        Males         Total

Modalities      M      SD     M      SD     M      SD

Visual         2.23   .96    2.38   .93    2.30   .94
Auditory       2.79   1.02   2.56   1.0    2.69   1.01
Cutaneous      2.65   .94    2.88   .97    2.76   .96
Kinaesthetic   2.39   1.00   2.41   .97    2.40   .99
Gustatory      2.63   .96    2.73   .97    2.67   .97
Olfactory      2.87   1.15   2.82   .95    2.85   1.06
Organic        2.45   1.13   2.34   .94    2.40   1.04
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Author:Campos, Alfredo; Campos-Juanatey, Diego
Publication:North American Journal of Psychology
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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