Social identity and moral behaviour in competitive youth ice hockey


Past research has identified important links between the identity youth form through membership on school sport teams (i.e., social identity) and their moral behaviour toward teammates and opponents (Bruner et al., 2014). However, to date researchers have not examined these links in competitive sport or examined group- and individual-level effects separately. As such, the aim of the current study was to investigate the hierarchical effects of social identity on moral behaviour in competitive youth ice hockey. Male and female adolescent athletes (N=376) from 28 competitive youth ice hockey teams completed measures of social identity (i.e., ingroup ties, cognitive centrality, ingroup affect; Bruner et al., 2014) and moral behaviour in sport (i.e., prosocial teammate behaviour, prosocial opponent behaviour, antisocial teammate behaviour, antisocial opponent behaviour; Kavussanu & Boardley, 2009). Multilevel analyses demonstrated: (a) at the individual level perceptions of ingroup ties and ingroup affect negatively predicted antisocial behaviour towards teammates, (b) at the group level ingroup affect positively predicted greater prosocial behaviour towards teammates and negatively predicted antisocial behaviour toward teammates and opponents, and (c) at the group level ingroup ties negatively predicted prosocial behaviour towards opponents and positively predicted antisocial behaviour towards teammates and opponents. The findings extend past research by investigating the hierarchical effects of social identity on moral behaviour in competitive sport.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant (430-2013-000950).