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PSYC 3480
Dan Yarmey

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 Chapter 8: Aggression and Moral Behaviour in Sport Common Myths about Aggression and Moral Behaviour in Sport MYTH: Aggression in sport is a good characteristic. It is something to be encouraged in players MYTH: Aggression is only a physical behaviour MYTH: Athletes are born with certain moral behaviours MYTH: Participating in physical sports will decrease the desire to behave aggressively Introduction - it is common for people to say that sport builds character and helps develop moral val- ues because of the belief that sport provides opportunity to learn how to co-operate with teammates, develop self-control, and play fair Development of Moral Character - 2 distinct perspectives: structural-developmental and social learning Structural-Developmental Perspective - view moral development as the change in reasoning patterns that are related to a per- son’s cognitive growth and development - moral reasoning develops and progresses well into adulthood - there are 6 developmental stages of moral judgment, grouped into 3 levels - the first level is pre-conventional morality, where children abide by rules in fear of pun- ishment (stage 1) or in hopes of receiving rewards (stage 2) - the second level is conventional morality, where individuals will conform to avoid disap- proval of others (stage 3) and will uphold laws and social rules (stage 4) - the final level, post-conventional morality is when individuals’ moral reasoning is no longer confined by the strict boundaries of rule, their actions are guided by principles commonly agreed on as being essential (stage 5) and these actions are self-selected and guided by ethical principles (stage 6) - the majority of people will never progress beyond the second level, and less than 10% of people display stage 6 moral reasoning Social Learning Perspective - moral behaviour (the carrying out of an action that is deemed right or wrong) is learned through the process of reinforcement and modeling - participation in sport teaches and/or reinforces sportspersonship behaviours - some people argue that athletes tend to be more unsportspersonlife than their non- athlete counterparts and that sports which contain physical contact negatively impact an athlete’s moral reasoning Factors Influencing Moral Behaviour Sport Environment - sport enables individuals to learn rules and appropriate conduct of fair play - sport can act as an environment where moral behaviours can flourish by the promotion of co-operation, team loyalty, fair play, respect for opponents, and perseverance when faced with adversity - sport can also have the opposite effect, whereby negative influences such as the op- portunity for unfair play, illegitimate aggression and intimidation can present themselves in athletes - the type of coaching impacts and athlete’s moral development - a coach can prohibit acts that disrespect or violate rules and encourage conduct that demonstrates respect and fair ply - being a positive role model for athletes can help promote positive moral development - athletes who learn morally appropriate behaviours in sport are more likely to transfer these positive behaviours to other activities and aspects outside of sports - coaches who display a lack of proper leadership, by emphasizing winning or encourag- ing immoral actions, can promote an environment that is more conductive to un- sportspersonlike and aggressive behaviours Motivational Climate - categorized into 2 types: mastery and performance - mastery motivational climate can be seen when the coach encourages cooperation and learning from past mistakes - performance motivational climate can be perceived when the coach emphasizes win- ning and stresses competition among teammates Prosocial Behaviour - intended to assist or benefit another individual or team Antisocial Behaviour - intended to harm or disadvantage another individual or team - antisocial behaviours were carried out at a higher frequency and with a wider range of behaviours than prosocial - prosocial behaviours decreased as the players got older and their motivational climate changed from mastery to performance - developing a motivational atmosphere based on learning and improvement rather than on winning may lead to a decrease in antisocial behaviours and promote prosocial Team Norms - standards or expectations that influence team members’ behaviour - the expectations of teammates, coaches, and parents are a prominent element in influ- encing an athlete’s moral behaviour - both younger (gr. 4&5), and older (gr. 7&8) athletes perceived social approval from a significant other was related to moral behaviour - mothers had the largest effect on younger athletes and teammates did for older - another study showed that a player’s perception of their teammates’ tendency to aggress was the best predictor as to whether the player was likely to aggress Goal Orientation - according to the achievement goal theory, 2 major goal orientations are assumed to function within the context of sport, namely, task orientation and ego orientation - athletes who are task oriented tend to use self-referenced criteria and feel successful when they have mastered the task - ego-oriented athletes tend to use other-referenced criteria and defines success by out- performing others - ego-oriented perceive success as a function of outdoing others, so they are more likely to break the rules and behave in an unsportspersonlike manner - task-oriented athletes are more likely to want to play by the rules of the sport since competence is judged against self-referenced criteria - in a study, athletes high in ego orientation had lower levels of moral judgment and thus were more likely to describe the behaviour as inappropriate and more likely to engage in these behaviours - there is a need to teach athletes to focus on the process rather than the outcome Aggression - one of the most unsportspersonlike behaviours Aggression - any overt verbal or physical act that is intended to psychologically or physically injure another living organism Violent Behaviour - an extreme act of physical aggression that bears “no direct rela- tionship to the competitive goals of sport, and relates to incidents of uncontrolled ag- gression outside of the rules of sport - because the aggressive act is directed at another living organism, there is always an aggressor and a victim in any aggressive or violent act - there is a difference between being aggressive and assertive, assertive does not in- clude the intent to harm Assertive Behaviours - those actions that are forceful, vigorous, and legitimate, but the individual performing these behaviour as does not intend to injure an opponent - defining aggressive behaviour involves four key points: 1. It is a behaviour, not an emotion or a feeling 2. It can be verbal or physical 3. It is intended to physically or psychologically harm 4. It is directed toward another living organism - there are 2 kinds of aggression that have been identified based on the reason why the individual behaved in such a way - in both, the intent is to do harm Instrumental Aggression - serves as the means to a particular goal, such as winning money, or prestige, in which injury to the opponent is involved, the injury is impersonal and designed to limit the effectiveness of the opponent Hostile/Reactive Aggression - to injure another person deliberately, the intent is to make the victim suffer, either physically, psychologically or both - some researchers suggest that the behaviour also has to go against the prevailing norms within the sport-specific culture - each sport has its own written and unwritten rules and it is through socialization and experience gained through participation in the sport that participants become knowl- edgeable regarding the normative standards - a factor that influences the perception of aggression is the viewpoint from which one is involved in the behaviour, the actor (alleged aggressor) will usually view the action as appropriate and not aggressive, whereas the actor’s opponent (alleged victim) will usu- ally perceive the behaviour as inappropriate or aggressive - another factor that tends to influence a person’s perception of whether or not an act is aggressive is the outcome of the act, however the key point in aggression is the intent to harm another living being - if an act was committed with the intent of psychologically intimidating an opponent but does not succeed, it is still an aggressive behaviour Theories of Aggression - classified into 5 groups: psychodynamics, frustration-aggression theory, physiological explanations, social learning theory, and moral disengagement Psychodynamics - humans are born with certain psychic drugs that will cause them to act in certain ways - aggressive behaviour is an innate, natural response that evolved primarily through a struggle for survival - aggression builds up naturally and must be released - numerous socially approved methods existed for releasing the pent-up aggression - sport is one such activity that could curtail the negative results of aggression - this release is a process called catharsis - a large body of research has demonstrated that aggression will actually be maintained rather than reduced - the probability of subsequent aggression will increase rather than diminish - exposure to violence in sports serves as a reinforcer, not as a catharsis Frustration-Aggression Theory - aggression is a natural response to frustration - originally hypothesized that all aggression was due to frustration and that frustration al- ways leads to aggression - there are shortcomings: e.g. people are able to deal with frustrations non-aggressively - there is a revised frustration-aggression theory, recognizing that aggression can have causes other than frustration and that frustration can lead to behaviours other than ag- gression such as withdrawal from sport - when an individual is frustrated, an emotional reaction of anger is produced that does not automatically lead to aggression but rather to a readiness to be aggressive - some scientists have been reluctant to accept this theory since it implies an instinctual mechanism that accounts for the frustration-anger link Physiological Explanations - 2 supportive mechanisms: brain pathology and blood chemistry - brain pathology has shown that aggressive behaviour is often characteristics of people with brain tumors, in these people, aggressive behaviours can be elicited by stimulating various parts of the brain - in blood chemistry, aggression has been linked primarily to the hormone testosterone - there is a link in animals but it is less consistent in humans - testosterone may cause individuals to be aggressive, but it is difficult to explain why people who possess high levels of testosterone are aggressive in some situations and not others - it is hard to explains why females can act aggressively - physiological explanations rarely use to explain aggression in sport except with steroids, most notably athletes in power and strength sports like weightlifting - athletes who use steroids have higher levels of aggression Social Learning Theory - most supported explanation - a person is neither driven by inner forces nor controlled solely by environmental influ- ences, people are aggressive because they have learned that aggression pays - 2 forms of social interaction lead to the development of aggressive behaviours - first involves modeling: people can acquire aggressive behaviours from observing ag- gressive models and can retain these aggressive tendencies over time - second form involves learning or acquiring new responses because of reinforcement, when an action is performed and then positively reinforced, the behaviour is strength- ened - approval is a possible reinforcer of aggression - success can also influence aggressive behaviours, players who perceived their coach to have a win-at-all-costs attitude expressed higher levels of aggression and were more willing to use illegal, aggressive tactics to win Moral Disengagement - extension of social learning theory but developed to specifically address moral behav- iour - individuals tend to refrain from engaging in behaviour that violates their own moral standards - athletes do not always behave the way they should and may go against their moral standards - there are 8 methods by which individuals attempt to disengage themselves from the behaviour, these are the mechanisms of moral disengagement: 1. Moral Justification - an individual reconsiders aggression as being a negative behav- iour and makes it acceptable by portraying this behaviour as facilitation a social or moral purpose 2. Euphemistic Labeling - changing the language to make the aggressive behaviour seem less harmful 3. Advantageous Comparison - comparing it to something worse 4. Displacement of Responsibility - athletes shift the blame for their aggressive behav- iours to other individuals 5. Diffusion of Responsibility - team members make a group decision to use aggressive behaviours, no single athlete feels personally responsible 6. Distortion of Consequences - an athlete minimizes the harm caused by his or her ac- tions 7. Dehumanization - cognitively removing people of their humans qualities, call them goons, animals, beasts 8. Attribution of blame - athletes see themselves as the victim not the aggressor Factors Influencing Aggression - personal, situational and group factors help us to understand when aggression is more likely to occur Personal Factors Influencing Aggression Gender - research has primarily examined male athletes but recently there has been more inter- est shown in sport behaviours exhibited by women - in ice hockey, female athletes have also shown a tendency to engage in aggressive behaviours, similar to their male counterparts - the majority of aggressive behaviour in women’s hockey occurs to (1) protect the goalie (2) gain a competitive advantage, and (3) get the opponent to retaliate and draw a penalty - these women tended to rely more on psychological aggression than on physical ag- gression in the form of verbally taunting and provoking their opponents into taking retal- iatory penalties - a study showed that females use aggression for 5 regions: (1) obtain the puck (most frequent), (2) related to strategy, method of impeding their opponents’ progress, prevent- ing them from scoring (3) to protect themselves or their teammates from being hit, (4) in- timidate their opponents, verbally and physically, and (5) simply to hit the opponent Age - one study compared aggressive behaviours of Atom (10-11), Pee-Wee (12-13), and Bantam (14-15) hockey players - results showed that Atom players were more approving of instrumental aggression than their older counterparts - Pee-Wee and Bantam players were more approving of hostile aggression - as players age, they endorse the use of both instrumental and hostile aggression to a greater extent - there are contrary findings to the argument that there is a positive relationship between age and aggressive behaviour - studies who have examined Pee-Wee, high-school, and university ice hockey players showed the desire to physically and psychologically injure opponents peaks during the middle years Physical Size - one study found that both height and weight positively correlated to the number of ag- gressive penalties - regardless whether an individual was an athlete or not, the bigger the person, the more he reported being involved in a fight in a non-sport setting Retaliation Moves - many athletes expressed wanting to physically harm an opponent because the oppo- nent had attempted to injure them or a teammate - strongest predict of high-school basketball players’ aggressive behaviour was the ag- gression of their opponent Annoyances - some athletes might become aggressive because they are annoyed - could be because of inconsistent calls by an official, mannerisms of opponents, or taunting by opposing players, coaches or fans - officiating inconsistencies were one of the most annoying and most prevalent sources of anger for ice hockey athletes - verbal abuse of officials was the most frequent aggressive act occurring in ice hockey and basketball games - sometimes the aggression becomes physical towards the official Self-Presentation - the way individuals present themselves in social situations - some athletes may behave aggressively in order to convey or maintain an image of toughness to opponents and observers, particularly within contact sports - intercollegiate ice hockey and football players whose names were printed on the backs of their jerseys were more aggressive (because they were more identifiable) - a contrasting viewpoint would suggests that aggressive impulses are increased when the individual feels less identifiable, a process known as deindividuation Situational Factors Influencing Aggression Frequency of Competition - the number of times competitors meet may have an impact on the amount of aggres- sive behaviour demonstrated in the matches - aggression behaviour occurred more often in interdivisional games (teams competing in the same division) than in interdivisional games (different divisions) Home Advantage - there is a home advantage, with the home teams winning 58.5% of decided games - home teams received more aggressive penalties in games they won, while visiting teams incurred more more aggressive penalties in games they lost Point Differentials - losing is often thought to be frustrating, so individuals may become aggressive - research showed that losing is not related to aggressive behaviours - there is support for the occurrence of aggressive behaviours and various specific los- ing situations (losing late in the game, losing by a large margin) Group Factors Influencing Aggression - psychological closeness of an observer to an aggressor will influence the observer’s perception of the aggressor’s intent - belonging to a group will have an impact on an individual’s willingness to behave ag- gressively Individual’s Role - individuals who occupy a specific role on a team are generally expected to behave in a manner consistent with the behaviours expected of that role Team Norms - team norms provide the player with the information necessary to know what is or is not acceptable behaviour Collective Efficacy for Aggression - perception of the ability to use aggressive behaviour as a tactic or strategy - as teams develop an acceptance of aggressive behaviour and subsequent expecta- tions that it is needed for success, they develop a perception of their ability to use ag- gression as a tactic or strategy within the game - sense of collective competence they feel for their offensive or defensive skills - collective efficacy was found to predict future team aggressive behaviours - these perceptions were more similar among team members than among teams Group Cohesion - as teams became more united in pursuit of their goals mad objectives, they exhibited more aggressive behaviours - both task and social cohesion predicted team norms regarding the use of physical ag- gression Consequences of Aggressive Behaviour - all acts have both an aggressor and a victim, and most have an observer - there can be consequences to all 3 - the most obvious to the individuals involved is injury - few incidences of injury in sports have been caused by aggressive behaviour - intimidation or psychological harm is another possible consequence, this is hard to measure but we can sometimes infer from a player’s behaviour - they athlete may have been intimidated by an assertive not aggressive behaviour - another possible consequence is an elevated arousal level, anger or emotions, this will impact their performance - penalization is the most common that can occur, it is designed to discourage aggres- sive behaviour by reducing the individual’s or team’s chances of success Fan Violence - research suggests that f
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