Caring about Injustice: The Moral Self-Perceptions of Professional Female Bodybuilders

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Leslee A. FisherUniversity of Tennessee

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Brenda J.L. BredemeierUniversity of Notre Dame

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The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to investigate the moral orientations of professional female bodybuilders and (b) to explore the relationship between professional female bodybuilders’ moral orientations when reasoning about self-identified and standardized hypothetical (steroid) moral dilemmas. Ten professional female bodybuilders ranging in age from 26 to 40 years participated in the study. Results revealed that female bodybuilders used both justice and care reasoning in their considerations of moral dilemmas encountered in the bodybuilding context; however, one moral orientation predominated over the other for each participant. Although Gilligan and colleagues (Brown et al., 1988) claim that women tend to use predominantly care reasoning, the present study found that half the participants used a justice perspective. Results are discussed in light of Rest’s (Rest, Narvaez, Bebeau, & Thoma, 1999) supposition that care and justice are ideals appropriate to different kinds of social situations and are complementary rather than rival moralities.

Fisher is with the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2700. Bredemeier is with the Center for Sport, Character and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

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