Executive Function Is Associated With Antisocial Behavior and Aggression in Athletes

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Birmingham
  • 2 University of Seville
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Poor executive function has been linked to increased antisocial and aggressive behavior in clinical and nonclinical populations. The present study investigated the relationship between executive and nonexecutive cognitive function and antisocial behavior in sport as well as reactive and proactive aggression. Cognitive function was assessed in young adult male and female athletes using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Antisocial behavior in sport and aggression were assessed via self-report instruments and were found to be positively correlated. Executive function (but not nonexecutive function) scores were negatively correlated with both self-reported antisocial behavior and aggression in males but not females. Our findings suggest that prefrontal deficits among male athletes could contribute to poor impulse control and difficulty in anticipating the consequences of their antisocial and aggressive behavior.

Martina Micai is with the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK, and the University of Seville, Seville, Spain. Maria Kavussanu and Christopher Ring are with the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Address author correspondence to Christopher Ring at c.m.ring@bham.ac.uk.