Do parasport athletes' normative perceptions of doping moderate the association of doping moral disengagement with anticipated guilt?


Research suggests greater use of doping moral disengagement (DMD; temporary endorsement of a transgressive behavior) is associated with reduced anticipated guilt (Kavussanu & Stanger, 2017). However, DMD occurs within the greater social context of sport. Descriptive norms (perceived doping prevalence) and subjective norms (perceived support from significant others) may influence this relationship, as moral behavior is a product of social circumstances and moral reasoning (Bandura, 1991). The purpose of this study was to examine the potential moderating influence of these normative perceptions on the relationship of DMD with guilt anticipated from doping. A survey was completed by 169 parasport athletes (Mage = 36.5 years, 77.4% male, 53% wheelchair basketball), including three items for descriptive norms (Barkoukis et al., 2014), three for subjective norms (Lazuras et al., 2015), the Doping Moral Disengagement Scale (Boardley et al., 2018), and five anticipated guilt items in a hypothetical doping situation (Boardley et al., 2017). Hierarchical multiple regression revealed a significant increase in variance explained when moderation terms were added to main effects terms (R2 change = .07). Simple slopes testing showed DMD to negatively predict anticipated guilt when subjective norms are low, but non-significant prediction of anticipated guilt when subjective norms are high. No interaction was found with descriptive norms. Findings suggest the importance of social norms (particularly subjective) to prediction of anticipated doping-related guilt in parasport athletes. Future work should examine how normative influences can strengthen or weaken effectiveness of anti-doping programs.

Acknowledgments: College of Education Summer Research Fellowship, MSU Graduate School Research Enhancement Award