Ego involvement increases doping likelihood

J Sports Sci. 2018 Aug;36(15):1757-1762. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2017.1415781. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Achievement goal theory provides a framework to help understand how individuals behave in achievement contexts, such as sport. Evidence concerning the role of motivation in the decision to use banned performance enhancing substances (i.e., doping) is equivocal on this issue. The extant literature shows that dispositional goal orientation has been weakly and inconsistently associated with doping intention and use. It is possible that goal involvement, which describes the situational motivational state, is a stronger determinant of doping intention. Accordingly, the current study used an experimental design to examine the effects of goal involvement, manipulated using direct instructions and reflective writing, on doping likelihood in hypothetical situations in college athletes. The ego-involving goal increased doping likelihood compared to no goal and a task-involving goal. The present findings provide the first evidence that ego involvement can sway the decision to use doping to improve athletic performance.

Keywords: Achievement goals; cheating; doping; motivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Doping in Sports / psychology*
  • Ego*
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / administration & dosage*
  • Probability
  • Young Adult


  • Performance-Enhancing Substances