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Curr Opin Psychol. 2017 Aug;16:185-192. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.05.010. Epub 2017 Jun 3.

Moral behavior in sport.

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University of Birmingham, UK. Electronic address:
Leeds Beckett University, UK.


In this review paper, we provide an overview of recent research on prosocial and antisocial behaviors, in the context of sport, focusing mainly on antecedents and consequences of these behaviors. Motivational variables such as task orientation, mastery climate, autonomous motivation, and autonomy supportive climate are likely to promote prosocial behavior, whereas ego orientation, performance climate, controlled motivation, and controlling climate may lead to antisocial behavior. The effects of some motivational variables (i.e., controlled motivation and controlling climate) on antisocial behavior may be mediated by moral disengagement, which has been consistently linked to antisocial behavior across a number of studies. Two moral variables, moral identity and empathy have been found to inhibit antisocial behavior, and their effects are due to anticipated guilt for acting antisocially. With respect to consequences of teammate behavior, some evidence suggests that prosocial behavior may enhance the recipient's enjoyment, effort, commitment, and performance, whereas antisocial behavior could lead to anger. Finally, the frequency of prosocial and antisocial behaviors varies as a function of context: Student athletes display more antisocial behavior towards their opponents compared to their fellow students but also more prosocial behavior towards their teammates than towards their fellow students. In sum, both motivational and moral variables predict prosocial and antisocial behaviors in sport, and these behaviors can have important consequences for the recipient.

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