Bracketed Morality Revisited: How Do Athletes Behave in Two Contexts?

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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The concept of bracketed morality has received empirical support in several sport studies (e.g., Bredemeier & Shields, 1986a, 1986b). However, these studies have focused on moral reasoning. In this research, we examined bracketed morality with respect to moral behavior in sport and university contexts, in two studies. Male and female participants (Study 1: N = 331; Study 2: N = 372) completed questionnaires assessing prosocial and antisocial behavior toward teammates and opponents in sport and toward other students at university. Study 2 participants also completed measures of moral disengagement and goal orientation in both contexts. In most cases, behavior in sport was highly correlated with behavior at university. In addition, participants reported higher prosocial behavior toward teammates and higher antisocial behavior toward opponents in sport than toward other students at university. The effects of context on antisocial behavior were partially mediated by moral disengagement and ego orientation. Our findings extend the bracketed morality concept to prosocial and antisocial behavior.

Maria Kavussanu, Ian D. Boardley, and Christopher Ring are with the School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. Sam S. Sagar is with the Psychology Group, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK.