A growing body of literature associates anabolic-androgenic steroids (AS) with psychological and behavioral disturbance. Studies report marked increases in aggression, and authors have suggested a causal relationship with the pharmacological properties of AS. There are, however, contradictions, methodological shortcomings, and variability within the literature that indicate a need to reevaluate the interpretation of these findings. After considering limitations in the pharmacological-oriented approach when compared to wider theory, a previously unconsidered social-psychological literature base regarding this problem is examined. The paper explores the role of social mediation in the relationship between AS use and aggression, demonstrating how psychosocial factors may bring about the aggressive behavior. Although these alternatives aim to place the nature of effects firmly back in the field of psychological explanation, it is proposed that the true nature of the effects will only become evident by adopting a complex biopsychosocial approach to the study of this problem.
Martin Sharp and David Collins
Constantinos N. Maganaris, Dave Collins, and Martin Sharp
Although expectancy has been shown to play a role in the effect of Anabolic Steroids (AS) on behavior, little research has been completed on the potential for parallel effects on performance. This is an important area for investigation because if expectancy effects can be shown to operate by improvements in performance through the administration of a placebo, arguments against the use of AS may be more successfully advanced. Accordingly, the present investigation used the administration of a placebo (saccharine) with competitive power lifters, using false information about the nature of the drug to delineate expectancy effects. The pervasiveness of these effects was further examined by disclosing the true nature of the drug to half of the participants, midway through the investigation. Notable improvements in performance associated with the belief that AS had been administered largely dissipated when athletes were informed as to the true nature of the drug. Results indicated that expectancy played a notable role in performance enhancement. Implications for this work include more effective use of such investigations in the fight against doping in sport.
Tanya McGuane, Stephen Shannon, Lee-Ann Sharp, Martin Dempster, and Gavin Breslin
Horse racing requires jockeys to weigh in prior to each competition, with failure automatically excluding the jockey from competition. As such, many jockeys frequently employ long- and short-term “wasting” weight-loss techniques that can be harmful to health. This study aimed to explore jockeys’ social norms and experiences regarding wasting and the effects of wasting on their mental health. Six professional jockeys with a minimum of 2 years professional riding experience were recruited from a range of stud-racing yards in Ireland. From individual participant interviews, an interpretative-phenomenological-analysis approach revealed four themes: “Day in, day out,” “Horse racing is my life,” “You just do what you have to do,” and “This is our world.” Themes were interpreted through social-identity theory, which highlighted how wasting is an acceptable in-group norm among jockeys, irrespective of relationship problems and mental health consequences. Recommendations are offered for intervening to support jockeys’ mental health.