Psychological Mechanisms Underlying Doping Attitudes in Sport: Motivation and Moral Disengagement

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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We examined whether constructs outlined in self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002), namely, autonomy-supportive and controlling motivational climates and autonomous and controlled motivation, were related to attitudes toward performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sport and drug-taking susceptibility. We also investigated moral disengagement as a potential mediator. We surveyed a sample of 224 competitive athletes (59% female; M age = 20.3 years; M = 10.2 years of experience participating in their sport), including 81 elite athletes. Using structural equation modeling analyses, our hypothesis proposing positive relationships with controlling climates, controlled motivation, and PEDs attitudes and susceptibility was largely supported, whereas our hypothesis proposing negative relationships among autonomous climate, autonomous motivation, and PEDs attitudes and susceptibility was not supported. Moral disengagement was a strong predictor of positive attitudes toward PEDs, which, in turn, was a strong predictor of PEDs susceptibility. These findings are discussed from both motivational and moral disengagement viewpoints.

Ken Hodge and Elaine A. Hargreaves are with the School of Physical Education, University of Otago, New Zealand. David Gerrard is with the School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand. Chris Lonsdale is with the School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Australia.

This study was completed with the assistance of Drug Free Sport New Zealand.

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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