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The Self-Other Divergence Effect for Doping Likelihood: Mediation by Guilt and Moderation by Moral Agency and Values

Christopher Ring, Maria Kavussanu, and Benjamin Walters

Objectives: Self–other divergence refers to individuals judging themselves to be different from others. The authors investigated doping-related self-other divergence. Design: The authors used a quasi-experimental repeated-measures design to compare the effects of an independent variable (perspective: self, other) on doping likelihood and guilt. Method: Rugby players rated doping likelihood and guilt in situations describing two perspectives: self (their own behavior and feelings) and other (another player’s behavior and feelings). They also completed measures of moral agency, identity, perfectionism, and values (moral traits). Results: Doping likelihood was lower and guilt was higher for self-based ratings compared with other-based ratings. The self–other difference in doping likelihood was mediated by guilt and moderated by moral traits (larger for athletes with higher agency and values). Agency and values were more strongly related to self than other doping likelihood. Conclusions: Other-referenced measures differed from self-referenced measures of doping likelihood and guilt, indicating that it is wrong to presume equivalence of measurement.

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Teammate Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviors Predict Task Cohesion and Burnout: The Mediating Role of Affect

Ali Al-Yaaribi and Maria Kavussanu

The manner in which teammates behave toward each other when playing sport could have important achievement-related consequences. However, this issue has received very little research attention. In this study, we investigated whether (a) prosocial and antisocial teammate behaviors predict task cohesion and burnout, and (b) positive and negative affect mediates these relationships. In total, 272 (M age = 21.86, SD = 4.36) team-sport players completed a multisection questionnaire assessing the aforementioned variables. Structural equation modeling indicated that prosocial teammate behavior positively predicted task cohesion and negatively predicted burnout, and these relationships were mediated by positive affect. The reverse pattern of relationships was observed for antisocial teammate behavior which negatively predicted task cohesion and positively predicted burnout, and these relationships were mediated by negative affect. Our findings underscore the importance of promoting prosocial and reducing antisocial behaviors in sport and highlight the role of affect in explaining the identified relationships.

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Effects of Goal Orientation and Perceived Value of Toughness on Antisocial Behavior in Soccer: The Mediating Role of Moral Disengagement

Ian David Boardley and Maria Kavussanu

In this study, we examined (a) the effects of goal orientations and perceived value of toughness on antisocial behavior toward opponents and teammates in soccer and (b) whether any effects were mediated by moral disengagement. Male soccer players (N = 307) completed questionnaires assessing the aforementioned variables. Structural equation modeling indicated that ego orientation had positive and task orientation had negative direct effects on antisocial behavior toward opponents. Further, ego orientation and perceived value of toughness had indirect positive effects on antisocial behavior toward opponents and teammates which were mediated by moral disengagement. Collectively, these findings aid our understanding of the effects of personal influences on antisocial behavior and of psychosocial mechanisms that could facilitate such antisocial conduct in male soccer players.

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Executive Function Is Associated With Antisocial Behavior and Aggression in Athletes

Martina Micai, Maria Kavussanu, and Christopher Ring

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.

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Put Yourself in Their Boots: Effects of Empathy on Emotion and Aggression

Nicholas Stanger, Maria Kavussanu, and Christopher Ring

Aggression has been linked to empathy and emotions (e.g., guilt) in cross-sectional studies. The purpose of this experiment was to examine the effects of empathy on emotional reactions to aggression and the role of guilt in the empathy–aggression relationship. Seventy-one undergraduate sport and exercise science students with a mean age of 19.56 (SD = 1.94) years were randomly assigned to either a high- or a low-empathy group. We experimentally manipulated empathy using perspective taking instructions and examined the following: (a) participants’ emotional reactions to images of aggressive acts; (b) their reported likelihood to aggress in a hypothetical sport situation; and (c) the extent to which they anticipated feeling guilt if they were to engage in an aggressive act. Participants in the high-empathy group experienced stronger negative emotional reactions to images of aggressive acts and reported lower likelihood to aggress than did those in the low-empathy group. Anticipated guilt partially mediated the effects of empathy on reported likelihood to aggress. Our findings suggest that empathy may help reduce aggressive behavior and highlight the potential mediating role of guilt.

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Moral Identity and Emotion in Athletes

Maria Kavussanu, Adrian Willoughby, and Christopher Ring

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of moral identity on physiological responses to affective pictures, namely, the startle blink reflex and pain-related evoked potential. Male (n = 48) and female (n = 46) athletes participating in contact team sports were randomly assigned to either a moral identity group or a non-moral identity group and viewed a series of unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant sport-specific pictures. During picture viewing, a noxious electrocutaneous stimulus was delivered as the startle probe and the startle blink and pain-related evoked potential were measured. Upon completion of physiological measures, participants reviewed the pictures and rated them for valence and arousal. ANOVAs revealed that participants in the moral identity group displayed larger startle blinks and smaller pain-related potentials than did those in the non-moral identity group across all picture valence categories. However, the difference in the magnitude of startle blinks between the moral and non-moral identity groups was larger in response to unpleasant than pleasant and neutral pictures. Our findings suggest that moral identity affects physiological responses to sport-specific affective pictures, thereby providing objective evidence for the link between moral identity and emotion in athletes.

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Contextual Influences on Moral Functioning of Male Youth Footballers

Maria Kavussanu and Christopher M. Spray

This study examined the network of relationships among moral atmosphere, perceived performance motivational climate, and moral functioning of male youth football players. Participants were 325 footballers recruited from 24 teams of a youth football league. They responded to scenarios describing cheating and aggressive behaviors likely to occur during a football game by indicating their moral judgment, intention, and behavior, which represented moral functioning. The moral atmosphere of the team and participants’ perceptions of the team’s performance motivational climate were also measured. Structural equation modeling indicated that perceptions of an atmosphere condoning cheating and aggressive behaviors were associated with views that a performance motivational climate is salient in the team, while both moral atmosphere and perceived performance climate corresponded to low levels of moral functioning in football. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for eliminating unsportsmanlike conduct from sport.

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Contextual Influences on Moral Functioning of College Basketball Players

Maria Kavussanu, Glyn C. Roberts, and Nikos Ntoumanis

The purpose of this study was to examine the role of moral atmosphere and perceived performance motivational climate on moral functioning of college basketball players and to determine the relationship between moral atmosphere and perceived performance motivational climate. A total of 199 athletes participated in the study. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the interrelationships among the variables of interest. Athletes’ perceptions of the moral atmosphere of their team had a significant effect on moral functioning, while the effect of performance motivational climate on moral functioning was not significant. Perceptions of a performance motivational climate were positively associated with the moral atmosphere of the team. Implications of the findings for eliminating unsportspersonlike conduct in the sport realm are discussed.

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Athletes’ Perceptions of Coaching Effectiveness and Athlete-Related Outcomes in Rugby Union: An Investigation Based on the Coaching Efficacy Model

Ian D. Boardley, Maria Kavussanu, and Christopher Ring

This study examined the relationships between athletes’ perceptions of coaching effectiveness, based on the coaching efficacy model, and their effort, commitment, enjoyment, self-efficacy, and prosocial and antisocial behavior in rugby union. Participants were 166 adult male rugby-union players (M age = 26.5, SD = 8.5 years), who completed questionnaires measuring their perceptions of four dimensions of coaching effectiveness as well as their effort, commitment, enjoyment, self-efficacy, and prosocial and antisocial behavior. Regression analyses, controlling for rugby experience, revealed that athletes’ perceptions of motivation effectiveness predicted effort, commitment, and enjoyment. Further, perceptions of technique effectiveness predicted self-efficacy, while perceptions of characterbuilding effectiveness predicted prosocial behavior. None of the perceived coaching effectiveness dimensions were related to antisocial behavior. In conclusion, athletes’ evaluations of their coach’s ability to motivate, provide instruction, and instill an attitude of fair play in his athletes have important implications for the variables measured in this study.

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The Effects of Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviors on Emotion, Attention, and Performance During a Competitive Basketball Task

Ali Al-Yaaribi, Maria Kavussanu, and Christopher Ring

The purpose of this experiment was to investigate whether prosocial and antisocial teammate behaviors affect emotions (i.e., happiness, anxiety, anger), attention, and performance. Undergraduate sport and exercise science students (N = 102) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: prosocial behavior, antisocial behavior, and control. They performed a basketball free-throw shooting task for 2 min in baseline and experimental phases and completed measures of emotions and attention. Free-throw shooting performance was also recorded. A series of analyses of covariances controlling for baseline scores showed that the prosocial group reported more happiness than the antisocial and control groups. The antisocial group reported more anxiety than the prosocial group and more anger and lower attention than the other 2 groups. The prosocial and antisocial groups performed better than the control group. These findings suggest that prosocial and antisocial teammate behaviors may influence the recipient’s emotions, attention, and performance during sport competition.