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Thierry Long, Nathalie Pantaléon, Gérard Bruant and Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville

Based on game reasoning theory (Shields & Bredemeier, 2001) and related research, the present study aimed at describing young elite athletes’ perceptions of rules compliance and transgression in competitive settings, as well as the underlying reasons for these actions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 young elite athletes. The qualitative analysis showed that respect and transgression of rules in competitive settings were perceived to depend upon the athletes’ individual characteristics (e.g., desire to win), their social environment (e.g., coach’s pressure, team norms), sports values and virtues (e.g., fair play, the effort ethic), and modern sports rewards (e.g., media recognition, financial rewards). These results confirmed and expanded game reasoning theory and illustrated moral disengagement mechanisms (Bandura et al., 1996) in the sport domain.

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Karine Corrion, Thierry Long, Alan L. Smith and Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville

This study was designed to assess athletes’ use of moral disengagement in competitive sport. We conducted semistructured interviews with 24 elite male and female athletes in basketball and taekwondo. Participants described transgressive behaviors in competitive situations and reasons for adopting such behaviors. Content analyses revealed that the eight moral disengagement mechanisms identified in everyday Life (i.e., moral justification, advantageous comparison, euphemistic labeling, minimizing or ignoring consequences, attribution of blame, dehumanization, displacement of responsibility, and diffusion of responsibility; Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996) were germane in sport. However, the most frequently adopted mechanisms in sport (i.e., displacement and diffusion of responsibility, attribution of blame, minimizing or ignoring consequences, and euphemistic labeling) differed somewhat from those considered most salient in everyday life (i.e., moral justification, advantageous comparison, and euphemistic labeling). Moral disengagement mechanisms linked to projecting fault onto others (“It’s not my fault”) and minimization of transgressions and their consequences (“It’s not serious”) appear to be especially prominent in sport. The findings extend the sport moral disengagement literature by showcasing athlete accounts of moral disengagement.