The present study examined the influence of perceived social approval on moral development in youth sport. The sample consisted of 249 youth basketball players ranging in age from 9 to 15 years. A questionnaire was administered to the players during a team practice session near the end of a 10-week competitive season. Perceptions of significant other (mother, father, coach, teammates) approval of antisocial behavior served as the predictor variables; moral development components (judgment, reason, intent, behavior) served as the criterion variables. Canonical correlation analyses revealed significant overall relationships for both younger children (Grades 4 and 5) and adolescents (Grades 7 and 8). For younger children, lower perceptions of social approval were associated with a higher ability to judge a situation as a moral problem and the intent to exhibit moral behavior. For adolescents, perceived social approval was inversely related to reason, prosocial behavior, and particularly the judgment of a moral problem and the intent to exhibit moral behavior. These findings are discussed in terms of the importance of continuing to understand the influence of significant others on moral development in youth sport.
The authors are with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Langton Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.