Attitudes of Sport Fans Toward the Electronic Sign-Stealing Scandal in Major League Baseball: Differing Associations With Perfectionism and Excellencism

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
View More View Less
  • 1 School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • | 2 Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Restricted access

The winners of the 2017 World Series were found guilty of illegally using electronic devices to steal the signs of their opponents. Many but not all sport fans negatively reacted to this cheating incident. We relied on the model of excellencism and perfectionism to determine if perfection strivers are less unfavorable toward electronic sign stealing (cheating) compared with excellence strivers. Sport fans (N = 321) completed a measure of excellencism and perfectionism. We used three different approaches to measure attitudes toward electronic sign stealing in baseball. Results of a multivariate multiple regression showed that sport fans who are perfection strivers held more favorable attitudes toward electronic sign stealing compared with excellence strivers. Perfection strivers also reported higher moral disengagement and winning-at-all-cost mentality. These findings are insightful because they indicate that perfectionistic standards significantly relate to sport cheating-related attitudes once we separate excellencism from perfectionism.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Material (PDF 296 KB)
  • Asinof, E. (1963). Eight men out: The black sox and the 1919 World series. Owl Books.

  • Associated Press. (2020, February 21). Astros report receiving death threats on social media. https://tinyurl.com/y74h985a

  • Bae, M., Yoon, J., Kang, H., & Kim, T. (2017). Influences of perfectionism and motivational climate on attitudes towards doping among Korean national athletes: A cross sectional study. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 12(1), 52. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13011-017-0138-x

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bahrami, S., Yousefi, B., Kaviani, E., & Ariapooran, S. (2014). The prevalence of energetic drugs use and the role of perfectionism, sensation seeking and physical self-concept in discriminating bodybuilders with positive and negative attitude toward doping. International Journal of Sports Studies, 4(1), 174180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boardley, I.D., & Kavussanu, M. (2008). The moral disengagement in sport scale–short. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(14), 15071517. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410802315054

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bogage, J. (2020, February 14). What is sign stealing? Making sense of Major League Baseball’s latest scandal. https://tinyurl.com/zj4m1yvv

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bosco, F.A., Aguinis, H., Singh, K., Field, J.G., & Pierce, C.A. (2015). Correlational effect size benchmarks. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(2), 431449. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038047

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cisyk, J., & Courty, P. (2017). Do fans care about compliance to doping regulations in sports? The impact of PED suspension in baseball. Journal of Sports Economics, 18(4), 323350. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002515587441

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cuadrado, D., Salgado, J.F., & Moscoso, S. (2021). Personality, intelligence, and counterproductive academic behaviors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120(2), 504537. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000285

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • d’Arripe-Longueville, F., Corrion, K., Scoffier, S., Roussel, P., & Chalabaev, A. (2010). Sociocognitive self-regulatory mechanisms governing judgments of the acceptability and likelihood of sport cheating. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 32(5), 595618. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.32.5.595

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dickson, P. (2019). The hidden language of baseball: How signs and sign-stealing have influenced the course of our national pastime (2nd ed.). University of Nebraska Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Elmore, R., & Matthews, G.J. (2021). Bang the can slowly: An investigation into the 2017 Houston Astros. The American Statistician . Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/00031305.2021.1902391

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ESPN.com. (2020, February 13). Everything you need to know about MLB’s sign-stealing scandal. https://tinyurl.com/5accaduc

  • Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A.-G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: Tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 11491160.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Flett, G.L., & Hewitt, P.L. (2016). Reflections on perfection and the pressure to be perfect in athletes, dancers, and exercisers. In A.P. Hill (Ed.), The psychology of perfectionism in sport, dance and exercise (Vol. 241, pp. 296319). Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Flett, G.L., Hewitt, P.L., Nepon, T., & Besser, A. (2018). Perfectionism cognition theory: The cognitive side of perfectionism. In J. Stoeber (Ed.), The psychology of perfectionism: Theory, research, applications (pp. 89110). Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudreau, P. (2019). On the distinction between personal standards perfectionism and excellencism: A theory elaboration and research agenda. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14, 195215. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691618797940

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudreau, P. (2021). Separating the core definitional feature and the signature expressions of dispositional perfectionism: Implications for theory, research, and practice. Personality and Individual Differences, 181, Article 110975. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2021.110975

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudreau, P., Boileau, L., & Schellenberg, B.J.I. (2021). Peur de l'échec à l'école et dans les sports: Apport du modèle de l’excellencisme et du perfectionnisme [Fear of failure in sport and school: Contribution of the model of excellencism and perfectionism]. Revue Quebecoise de Psychologie, 42(3), 173194.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudreau, P., Schellenberg, B.J.I., Gareau, A., Kljajic, K., & Manoni-Millar, S. (2022). Because excellencism is more than good enough: On the need to distinguish the pursuit of excellence from the pursuit of perfection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000411

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goodall, F. (2020). Astros’ Jose Altuve nicked by pitch, stars booed in spring training game. https://tinyurl.com/4ejrsnn8

  • Greenbaum, R.L., Mawritz, M.B., & Eissa, G. (2012). Bottom-line mentality as an antecedent of social undermining and the moderating roles of core self-evaluations and conscientiousness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, 343359. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025217

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grugan, M.C., Jowett, G.E., Mallinson-Howard, S.H., & Hall, H.K. (2020). The relationships between perfectionism, angry reactions, and antisocial behavior in team sport. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 9(4), 543557. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000198

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hardwick, B., Madigan, D.J., Hill, A.P., Kumar, S., & Chan, D.K.C. (2021). Perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in athletes: The mediating role of achievement goal orientations. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2021.1891124

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hill, A.P., Mallinson-Howard, S.H., Madigan, D.J., & Jowett, G.E. (2020). Perfectionism in sport, dance, and exercise: An extended review and reanalysis. In G. Tennenbaum & R.C. Eklund (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (4th ed., pp. 121157). Wiley.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ismaili, S.S., Yousefi, B., & Sobhani, Y. (2013). The role of some psychological factors in the doping attitudes of elite wrestlers. International Journal of Wrestling Science, 3(1), 3547. https://doi.org/10.1080/21615667.2013.10878968

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lazuras, L., & Barkoukis, V. (2020). Performance- and appearance-enhancing drug use in sports. In G. Tennenbaum & R.C. Eklund (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (4th ed., pp. 11691187). Wiley.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Madigan, D.J., Mallinson-Howard, S.H., Grugan, M.C., & Hill, A.P. (2020). Perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in athletes: A continuously cumulating meta-analysis and test of the 2 × 2 model. European Journal of Sport Science, 20(9), 12451254. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2019.1698660

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Madigan, D.J., Stoeber, J., & Passfield, L. (2016). Perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in junior athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(8), 700706. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2015.1068441

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Matheny, M., & Jenkins, J.B. (2015). The Matheny manifesto. Three Rivers Press.

  • Mitchell, G.J. (2007). Report to the commissioner of baseball of an independent investigation into the illegal use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances by players in major league baseball (Vol. 13). Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Muthén, L.K., & Muthén, B.O. (1998–2022). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Muthén & Muthén.

  • Nathanson, C., Paulhus, D.L., & Williams, K.M. (2006). Predictors of a behavioral measure of scholastic cheating: Personality and competence but not demographics. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31(1), 97122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2005.03.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nicholls, A.R., Levy, A.R., Meir, R., Sanctuary, C., Jones, L., Baghurst, T., Thompson, M.A., & Perry, J.L. (2019). The development and validation of the Adolescent Sport Drug Inventory (ASDI) among athletes from four continents. Psychological Assessment, 31(11), 12791293. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000750

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nicholls, A.R., Madigan, D.J., & Levy, A.R. (2017). A confirmatory factor analysis of the Performance Enhancement Attitude Scale for adult and adolescent athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 28, 100104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2016.10.010

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’Rourke, J., Barnes, J., Deaton, A., Fulks, K., Ryan, K., & Rettinger, D.A. (2010). Imitation is the sincerest form of cheating: The influence of direct knowledge and attitudes on academic dishonesty. Ethics & Behavior, 20(1), 4764. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508420903482616

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Osenk, I., Williamson, P., & Wade, T.D. (2020). Does perfectionism or pursuit of excellence contribute to successful learning? A meta-analytic review. Psychological Assessment, 32, 972983. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000942

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spector, P.E. (2019). Do not cross me: Optimizing the use of cross-sectional designs. Journal of Business and Psychology, 34(2), 125137. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-018-09613-8

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stoeber, J. (2018). The psychology of perfectionism: An introduction. In J. Stoeber (Ed.), The psychology of perfectionism: Theory, research, and applications (pp. 316). Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stoeber, J., & Hotham, S. (2016). Perfectionism and attitudes toward cognitive enhancers (“smart drugs”). Personality and Individual Differences, 88, 170174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.09.011

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Washington Post. (2020, January 13). MLB statement on Houston Astros sign-stealing investigation. https://tinyurl.com/2du6pmjr

  • Vargo, E.J., James, R.A., Agyeman, K., MacPhee, T., McIntyre, R., Ronca, F., & Petróczi, A. (2014). Perceptions of assisted cognitive and sport performance enhancement among university students in England. Performance Enhancement & Health, 3(2), 6677. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.peh.2015.02.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vidvor, N. (2020). The Houston Astros’ cheating scandal: Sign-stealing, buzzer intrigue and tainted pennants. https://tinyurl.com/vw226sef

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, K., Xu, L., Zhang, J., Wang, D., & Sun, K. (2020). Relationship between perfectionism and attitudes toward doping in young athletes: The mediating role of autonomous and controlled motivation. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 15(1), 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13011-020-00259-5

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zumsteg, D. (2007). The cheaters guide to baseball. Mariner Books.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 300 300 253
Full Text Views 16 16 12
PDF Downloads 25 25 17