The word “character” has generally lost its currency in the literature on personality and social psychology over the last 20 years. And yet the assumption that sport builds character is still held, at least privately, by a great many people. This investigation was an attempt to reconsider the “character” construct, to isolate its social elements, and to establish its susceptibility in childhood to the influence of organized sport experience. Using prosocial behavior as one manifestation of evolved social character, the influence or organized sport was assessed in a field experiment with children from two elementary schools. Although the general assumption that “sport builds character” was not strongly supported or refuted in this investigation, some evidence, at least with males, showed that prosocial behavior may be inhibited by sport experience. Finally, implications were drawn for facilitating prosocial behavior in children's sports.
Douglas A. Kleiber and Glyn G. Roberts
Glyn C. Roberts, Douglas A. Kleiber and Joan L. Duda
This study investigated the relationship of sport participation to perceived competence. Perceived competence is considered to be an important determinant of achievement motivation and behavior. Male and female fourth and fifth graders (N = 143) were given Harter's (Note 1) Perceived Competence Scales and were interviewed to determine their involvement in organized sport activities. Further, the children were asked to give their perceptions of competence relative to teammates, general attributions about sport outcomes, and their persistence and expectancies of future success. The results revealed that participants in organized sports were higher in perceived competence, were more persistent, and had higher expectations of future success. The causal attributions of participant children were ability oriented and generally supported the perceived competence findings. The results are consistent with the statement that perceived competence in physical skills has an important influence on the participation and motivation of children in sport contexts.