Integrating moral and achievement variables to predict doping likelihood in football: a cross-cultural investigation

Maria Kavussanu, Mariya Yukhymenko, Anne Marie Elbe, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: In our study, we had two objectives. Our first objective was to test a social-cognitive model of doping in sport. In this model, we examined moral variables (i.e., moral disengagement, moral identity, anticipated guilt)and performance motivational climate as predictors of doping likelihood and whether performance motivational climate moderates the relationship between moral disengagement and doping likelihood. The second objective was to determine whether this model is invariant across sex and country. Design: We used a cross-sectional design. Method: Participants were 1495 (729 females)elite football players (mean age 20.4 ± 4.4)recruited from 97 teams in the UK, Denmark and Greece. They completed questionnaires measuring the aforementioned variables. Results: Moral disengagement positively predicted doping likelihood both directly and indirectly via anticipated guilt. The direct relationship was significant only when performance climate was perceived as average or high. Moral identity negatively predicted doping likelihood via both moral disengagement and anticipated guilt; and performance climate positively predicted doping likelihood. The model was largely invariant across sex and country. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that young elite football players in the UK, Denmark and Greece are less likely to use banned substances to enhance their performance, if they consider being moral an important part of who they are, and if they perceive a low performance climate in their team. Moral identity is likely to trigger feelings of guilt associated with the use of banned substances and to mobilize moral disengagement mechanisms. Our findings highlight the importance of moral variables in deterring the use of banned substances in sport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101518
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date10 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • soccer
  • guilt
  • moral disengagement
  • moral identity
  • performance climate


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