Prosocial and antisocial behavior in sport: the role of coaching style, autonomous vs. controlled motivation, and moral disengagement

J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2011 Aug;33(4):527-47. doi: 10.1123/jsep.33.4.527.


The purpose of this study was to examine whether the relationships between contextual factors (i.e., autonomy-supportive vs. controlling coaching style) and person factors (i.e., autonomous vs. controlled motivation) outlined in self-determination theory (SDT) were related to prosocial and antisocial behaviors in sport. We also investigated moral disengagement as a mediator of these relationships. Athletes' (n = 292, M = 19.53 years) responses largely supported our SDT-derived hypotheses. Results indicated that an autonomy-supportive coaching style was associated with prosocial behavior toward teammates; this relationship was mediated by autonomous motivation. Controlled motivation was associated with antisocial behavior toward teammates and antisocial behavior toward opponents, and these two relationships were mediated by moral disengagement. The results provide support for research investigating the effect of autonomy-supportive coaching interventions on athletes' prosocial and antisocial behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / psychology
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • New Zealand
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Support
  • Social Values
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Students / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult