Moral foundations, dilemmas, and disengagement in sport: insights from disparate cultures

Shea M. Balish * and Jeff Caron **

(*) Dalhousie University, Canada
(**) McGill University, Canada


M. Balish, S., Caron, J. (2015). Moral foundations, dilemmas, and disengagement in sport: insights from disparate cultures. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(5), 371-390. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2015.46.371


BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to test, within two culturally disparate samples, whether individualizing and binding foundations (i.e., intuitive preferences for individualistic or group-based moral concerns) predict responses to common moral dilemmas in sport, as well as moral disengagement. METHODS: Current and former athletes from individualistic (n=171) and collectivistic (n=245) countries completed a digital survey. Bias corrected and accelerated bootstrap analyses tested mediation effects. RESULTS: We demonstrated that moral foundations predict responses to moral dilemmas and in turn, moral disengagement. Individualizing foundations were negatively associated with moral disengagement while binding foundations were positively associated. Participants from collectivistic countries scored higher on binding foundations and moral disengagement, but not on individualizing foundations. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that moral disengagement in sport may measure, in part, a propensity to value binding foundations over individualizing foundations, which in some cultures may be seen as moral, rather than immoral. In sum, it may be useful to descriptively understand sporting morality across the world before assuming a normative theory of morality in sport.

Keywords: Cross cultural, Mediation, Moral diversity, Moral Psychology