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The observation that sport represents a unique context has been widely discussed, but social scientists have done little to empirically examine the moral adaptations of sport participants. In the present study, the divergence between levels of moral reasoning used to discuss hypothetical dilemmas set in sport and in everyday life contexts was investigated among 120 high school and collegiate basketball players, swimmers, and nonathletes. Protocols were scored according to Haan’s interactional model of moral development. It was found that levels of moral reasoning used to discuss sport dilemmas were lower than levels characterizing reasoning about issues within an everyday life context. Findings were discussed in terms of the specific social and moral context of sport experience.
This research project was supported by funding awarded to the principle investigator by the Institute of Human Development and the Faculty Research Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Appreciation is extended to the research assistants who served as interviewers and scorers, particularly Flo DeLaney for her work as interview coordinator, and to Barbara Worthing-Jones for her contributions in data analyses.
Direct all correspondence to Brenda Jo Bredemeier, Department of Physical Education, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.