Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

David Sherwood, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alice Healy, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Steven Hobbs, Ph.D.


The present study seeks to investigate the self-invoking trigger hypothesis. One aspect of the self-invoking trigger hypothesis states that when individuals activate their self-schema, also known as self-activation, their ability to learn and perform a motor skill will be hindered (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2010). A self-schema entails a set of beliefs and ideas that people have about themselves and these can affect how an individual acts in various settings (Bargh, 1982; Leite & Kuiper, 2010; Markus, 1977; Stein, 1995). The self-schema may be activated through various types of self-reflection (McKay, Wulf, Lewthwaite, & Nordin, 2015). Experiment 1 involved a pretest of 10 blocks composed of 3 dart throws each, a writing task during the 5 minute intertest interval, and a posttest similar in structure to the pretest (N=42). During the intertest interval the participant was asked to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as an athlete (n=14), or reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of another athlete (n=14), while the control group performed an alphabet listing task (n=14). Experiment 2 sought to separate the effects of the direction (positive and negative) and relevance (relevant or irrelevant to the task) of self-reflection (N=48). Experiment 2 involved the same methodology as the Experiment 1, but the writing task was replaced by reflecting on either strengths in dart-throwing (n=12), weaknesses in dart-throwing (n=12), strengths in other sports (n=12), or weaknesses in other sports (n=12). Based on analyses of variance and analyses of covariance, the present study fails to reject the null hypothesis, lending support for the notion that self-reflection and self-activation have no statistically significant effect on one’s ability to learn and perform a motor skill.