The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between children's moral reasoning and their assertive, aggressive, and submissive action tendencies in sport and daily life contexts. The 106 fourth- through seventh-grade children were asked to reason about hypothetical sport and daily life moral dilemmas and to respond to two behaviorally validated, self-report instruments designed to assess action tendencies in sport and daily life conflict situations. Multiple regression analyses indicated that moral reasoning scores were predictive of action tendencies, with reasoning positively related to assertion and negatively related to aggression. Results were interpreted in light of a congruence between Haan's (1978) descriptions of moral levels and the moral implications of the action tendencies under consideration. Gender and school-level differences in action tendencies were also noted; no gender or school-level differences in moral reasoning were found.
Brenda Light Bredemeier
This article presents a discussion of feminist praxis in sport psychology research. Praxis is a dialectical process of reflection and action that is motivated by one’s commitment to transformation. Those who are engaged in feminist praxis are working to transform the power and privilege differentials based on social structures and practices that deny or diminish the full humanity of all peoples. Sport psychology research that is grounded in feminist praxis seeks to better understand the sport experiences of marginalized people, especially girls and women, in order to inform strategies and processes for personal and social change. Two research projects are used to illustrate feminist praxis in sport psychology research. The first research project involved an investigation of women’s epistemological perspectives in their daily lives and physical activity domains. The second involved a study of lesbian moral exemplars who have been active and influential in sport. The feminist praxis that grounded both projects impacted the relationships among sport psychology researchers and study participants as well as other methodological considerations.
Brenda Light Bredemeier and David Light Shields
Dawn E. Stephens and Brenda Jo Light Bredemeier
Recent sport psychology research addressing athletic aggression has tended to focus either on the moral or the motivational dimensions of aggressive behavior. The current study utilized both moral and motivational constructs to investigate aggression in young soccer participants (N = 212) from two different age-group leagues: under 12 and under 14. Stepwise multiple regression analyses revealed that players who described themselves as more likely to aggress against an opponent also were more likely to (a) identify a larger number of teammates who would aggress in a similar situation, (b) perceive their coach as placing greater importance on ego-oriented goals, and (c) choose situations featuring preconventional rather than conventional moral motives as more tempting for aggressive action. These results suggest that young athletes’ aggressive behavior is related to their team’s “moral atmosphere,” including team aggressive norms, players’ perceptions of these team norms and coach characteristics, and players’ moral motives for behavior.
David Light Shields and Brenda Light Bredemeier
Most coaches assume that athletes already know what “competition” means and how to engage in it. We propose, in contrast, that competition is often misunderstood and that coaches need to intentionally teach about it, and help their athletes come to appreciate its purpose and values. Social scientists, too, have often misunderstood competition and, as a result, have frequently concluded that it leads to such negative outcomes as hostility, prejudice and aggression. To clarify the meaning of competition, it is helpful to distinguish it from a related process that can also occur within a contest. In keeping with the word’s etymology, we define competition as: a form of partnership with an opponent that enacts an enjoyable quest for excellence.In contrast, when participants view the contest not as a partnership for excellence, but as a miniature battle or war, contesting should be designated de-competition. De-competition is a separate, distinguishable process with its own dynamics. The distinction between competition and de-competition has significant and far-reaching practical implications, since the two processes tap different motives, focus on different goals, foster a different type of relationship with opponents, lead to different approaches to rules and officials, stimulates different types of emotions, and promote different ideas about what an ideal contest entails. When coaches deliberately teach and foster true competition, competition can be reclaimed for excellence, ethics, and enjoyment.
David Light Shields, Christopher D. Funk and Brenda Light Bredemeier
According to contesting theory (Shields & Bredemeier, 2011), people conceptualize competition either through a metaphor of partnership or war. These two alternate metaphors suggest differing sociomoral relationships among the participants. In the current study of intercollegiate athletes (n = 610), we investigated the two approaches to contesting in relation to formalist and consequentialist moral frameworks (Brady & Wheeler, 1996) and individualizing and binding moral foundations (Haidt, 2001). Correlational analysis indicated that the partnership approach correlated significantly with all four moral dimensions, while the war approach correlated with formalist and consequentialist frameworks and binding foundations (i.e., appeals to in-group loyalty, authority, and purity). Multiple regressions demonstrated that the best predictors of a partnership approach were formalist thinking and endorsement of individualizing moral foundations (i.e., appeal to fairness and welfare). Among our primary variables, the best predictors of a war orientation were consequentialist thinking and endorsement of binding foundations.
David Light Shields, Christopher D. Funk and Brenda Light Bredemeier
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 Lyle Light Shields, Douglas E. Gardner, Brenda Jo Light Bredemeier and Alan Bostrom
The present study drew from the model of moral action proposed by Shields and Bredemeier (1995) according to which a sport team’s collective norms influence behavior. The focus was on team cheating and aggression norms in relation to demographic variables, leadership style, and team cohesion. Participants were baseball and softball players (N=298) at the high school and community college level. It was found that age, year in school, and years playing ball all correlated positively with expectations of peer cheating and aggression, and with the belief that the coach would sanction cheating if necessary to win. MANOVA results indicated higher anticipations of cheating and aggression among males, college athletes, winning team members, and nonstarters. Significant relationships between leadership style variables and collective team norms, and between team cohesion variables and collective team norms, were also obtained.
Douglas E. Gardner, David L. Light Shields, Brenda Jo Light Bredemeier and Alan Bostrom
The relationship between perceived leadership behaviors and team cohesion in high school and junior college baseball and softball teams was researched. Study participants, 307 athletes representing 23 teams, responded to the perceived version of the Leadership Scale for Sports (LSS) and the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ). Correlational and multivariate analyses indicated significant relationships between perceived leader behaviors and team cohesion. Specifically, coaches who were perceived as high in training and instruction, democratic behavior, social support, and positive feedback, and low in autocratic behavior, had teams that were more cohesive. A MANOVA indicated there were significant differences between genders and athletes at the two school levels in their perceptions of coaching behaviors and team cohesion, though these demographic variables did not significantly moderate the leadership-cohesion relationship.
David Light Shields, Nicole M. LaVoi, Brenda Light Bredemeier and F. Clark Power
The present study examined personal and social correlates of poor sportspersonship among youth sport participants. Male and female athletes (n = 676) in the fifth through eighth grades from three geographic regions of the U.S. participated in the study. Young athletes involved in basketball, soccer, football, hockey, baseball/ softball, or lacrosse completed a questionnaire that tapped poor sportspersonship behaviors and attitudes, team sportspersonship norms, perceptions of the poor sportspersonship behaviors of coaches and spectators, and the sportspersonship norms of coaches and parents. Preliminary analyses revealed significant gender, grade, sport area, and location differences in self-reported unsportspersonlike behavior. The main analysis revealed that self-reported poor sport behaviors were best predicted by perceived coach and spectator behaviors, followed by team norms, sportspersonship attitudes, and the perceived norms of parents and coaches. Results are discussed in relation to the concept of moral atmosphere.