Moral choice in sport and daily life
Hartung, Eric M.
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The study's objective was to provide understanding of the role of context in the moral choice process of athletes. Study participants included twelve (12) Division I intercollegiate varsity athletes, six male and six female lacrosse and soccer participants. Each respondent provided two narratives, one daily life and one sport-centered, describing an experience where they were forced to make a moral choice. The structure of the narratives, depicted by the presence, predominance, and alignment (Brown et al., 1989) of the three dimensions of lived moral experience (Tappan, 1990, 1997), the cognitive, affective, and conative, was compared across contextual lines through the use of the McNemar chi-square test to uncover the statistical significance ofthe relationship between the correlated dichotomous variables of context and structure. A statistically significant divergence in the structure of moral narratives did not exist between the sport and daily life context, or, the variables of context and structure were independent, thus affirming the null hypothesis. Therefore, the dilemma context did not determine how an individual made a moral choice, thus disputing previously published findings that used an alternate methodology (Bredemeier and Shields, 1984; Bredemeier, 1995). Three dilemma types emerged - rules-centered, personal choice-centered, and honesty-centered - and the relationship to narrative structure was examined to explore the moral choice process. Rules-centered narratives pointed to bracketed morality (Bredemeier and Shields, 1984; Bredemeier, 1995; Shields and Bredemeier, 1995), suggesting an "action without consequence" environment. Bracketed morality narratives did not fall along contextual lines, but did trigger a decision-making process infused with self-centeredness, indifference, a sense of invincibility, and a disregard for authority and rules. Findings were discussed in terms of bracketed morality (Bredemeier and Shields, 1984; Bredemeier, 1995; Shields and Bredemeier, 1995) and social cognitive learning theory of moral development (Bandura, 1991 ), the role of authorship (Tappan and Brown, 1989) in determining moral action, the collection of real-life moral narratives (Gilligan and Attanucci, 1988) versus hypothetical moral dilemmas (Bredemeier and Shields, 1984; Bredemeier, 1995), and the role of an initiation into the sport ethos (Arnold, 1994).
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