Predictors of Moral Disengagement in Sport

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David Light Shields Saint Louis Community College–Meramec

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Christopher D. Funk University of Missouri–St. Louis

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Brenda Light Bredemeier University of Missouri–St. Louis

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Researchers have made productive use of Bandura’s (1991) construct of moral disengagement (MD) to help explain why sport participants deviate from ethical ideals. In this study of intercollegiate athletes from diverse sports (N = 713), we examined MD in relation to other character-related variables: empathy, moral identity, moral attentiveness, and contesting orientations. We also examined whether moral attentiveness conforms to the pattern of “bracketed morality” found in moral reasoning (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995) and moral behavior (Kavussanu, Boardley, Sagar, & Ring, 2013). Results indicated that MD correlated positively with perceptual moral attentiveness and war contesting orientation; MD correlated negatively with empathy, moral identity, reflective moral attentiveness, and partnership contesting orientation. Results of hierarchical regression demonstrated that gender, contesting orientations, moral identity, and one form of moral attentiveness were significant predictors of MD. Finally, sport participants were found to be less morally attentive in sport than in everyday life.

David Light Shields is with the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Saint Louis Community College–Meramec, St. Louis, MO. Christopher D. Funk is with the Department of Educator Preparation, Innovation and Research, University of Missouri–St. Louis St. Louis, MO. Brenda Light Bredemeier is with the Department of Educator Preparation, Innovation and Research, University of Missouri–St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.

Address author correspondence to David Light Shields at dshields32@stlcc.edu.
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