Prosocial and antisocial behaviour in sport versus education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In their seminal research, Bredemeier and Shields (1986) found divergence in moral reasoning between sport and daily life with a greater percentage of sport versus life reasoning classified as assimilative (i.e., the least mature level of moral reasoning). We extended this work to behaviour and had two purposes. The first purpose was to examine whether differences in prosocial and antisocial behaviour exist between sport and education. The second purpose was to determine whether moral disengagement and ego orientation mediate potential differences in behaviour between these two contexts. University team-sport athletes (N = 372) completed questionnaires assessing prosocial and antisocial behaviour, moral disengagement, and goal orientation in sport and university. Analyses of variance indicated that student-athletes reported: more antisocial and less prosocial behaviour toward their opponents while playing sport than toward their fellow students; more prosocial behaviour toward their teammates in sport than toward other students in university; and higher moral disengagement and ego orientation in sport than university. Within-subject regression analyses revealed moral disengagement and ego orientation as partial mediators: Higher moral disengagement and ego orientation in sport partially explained the higher frequency of antisocial behaviour in sport compared to the university context. No mediators were identified for prosocial behaviour. Our findings extend the work of Bredemeier and Shields (1986) and highlight the importance of distinguishing between teammates and opponents when contrasting morality in sport with that in other contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th FEPSAC European Congress of Sport Psychology
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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