Moral Atmosphere and Judgments about Aggression in Girls’ Soccer: Relationships among Moral and Motivational Variables

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Iowa
  • 2 University of California at Berkeley
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Recent sport psychology research addressing athletic aggression has tended to focus either on the moral or the motivational dimensions of aggressive behavior. The current study utilized both moral and motivational constructs to investigate aggression in young soccer participants (N = 212) from two different age-group leagues: under 12 and under 14. Stepwise multiple regression analyses revealed that players who described themselves as more likely to aggress against an opponent also were more likely to (a) identify a larger number of teammates who would aggress in a similar situation, (b) perceive their coach as placing greater importance on ego-oriented goals, and (c) choose situations featuring preconventional rather than conventional moral motives as more tempting for aggressive action. These results suggest that young athletes’ aggressive behavior is related to their team’s “moral atmosphere,” including team aggressive norms, players’ perceptions of these team norms and coach characteristics, and players’ moral motives for behavior.

Dawn E. Stephens is with the Department of Sport, Health, Leisure, and Physical Studies at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1A 52242. Brenda Jo Light Bredemeier is with the Department of Human Biodynamics at the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720.

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