Follow the leader: identity leadership and moral behaviour in social situations among youth sport teammates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Colin D. McLaren
  • Alex J. Benson
  • Luc J. Martin
  • Katrien Fransen
  • Jordan D. Herbison
  • Richard B. Slatcher
  • Justin M. Carré
  • Jean Côté
  • Mark W. Bruner

Colleges, School and Institutes


Objectives: Although social identity has been linked to moral behaviour in past research, we know less about how the identity-enhancing behaviours of athlete leaders may relate to the experience of prosocial and antisocial behaviour between youth sport teammates. This study examined the relations between perceptions of athlete identity leadership and moral behaviour in social situations outside of training and competition.

Methods: Participants were 130 competitive male and female youth ice hockey players (Mage = 13.45 years, SD = 1.82, range = 10–17) from nine teams in a Northeastern Ontario city in Canada. Measures of identity leadership and moral behaviour were completed concurrently within the final three weeks of the regular season.

Results: Using structural equation modeling, results demonstrated a significant positive association between identity leadership and both engaging in prosocial behaviour toward teammates (β = .37, p = .003) and receiving prosocial behaviour from teammates (β = 0.40, p < .006), accounting for 34% and 51% of the variance in each prosocial outcome, respectively. Although the relations with antisocial behaviour (engaged and received) were in the expected negative direction, the path estimates were not significant (ps > .23).

Conclusion: These findings further our understanding of identity leadership in youth sport generally, offering insight into the relations between identity-enhancing athlete leader behaviours and moral behaviour. The findings also extend past moral behaviour research to consider the social situations in which teammates find themselves outside of training and competition.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This work was supported by an Insight Grant to Dr. Mark Bruner ( PI: 435-2016-0591 ) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) . Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd


Original languageEnglish
Article number101940
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date28 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Prosocial behaviour, Social identity leadership, Social settings, Youth sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas