Moral development and goal orientation in greek sport

Por: G. Doganis, I. Athanailidis, I. Chatzigianni e M. Proios.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The present research is based on the cognitive-developmental theory, ensuring better understanding of the children’s sportspersonlike behavior [1], and on the achievement goal theory, postulating that within the frame of studying the morality it is primordial to take into consideration the goals that a person tries to achieve [2]. The purpose of the present research was to examine the development of moral reasoning and goal perspectives in sport according to the age, the education level, the experience in sport, the gender, the type of sport and the form of participation in it.


Participants were 432 persons, males (N=342) and females (N=90), aged from 14 to 52 years old (M=26.09, SD=9.01) with athletic experience from 1 to 32 years (M=8.79, SD=6.20), who participated in sport as athletes (N=235), referees (N=147) and coaches (N=50) and played football, volleyball and basketball. These persons filled-in the Defining Issues Test [3], the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire [4] and the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire for Referees [5]. Univariate analyses were used in order to analyze the data.


The results demonstrated that the development of moral reasoning is influenced considerably by the age F(3,413)=3.16, p<.001 and the education level F(3,414)=7.67, p<.001, whereas the goal perspectives showed that the task orientation is influenced significantly by the education level F(3,351)=3.82, p<.01 and the type of sport F(3,348)=4.47, p<.01 and the ego orientation is influenced by the age F(3,347)=3.40, p<.05 and the form of participation in sport F(2,350)=4.88, p<.01.


The findings of the present research enhance the statement that the moral development demonstrates upward movement according to the increase of age and education level [6]. The research revealed that growth variables "age" and "education level" influence correspondingly the ego and task orientation. The relation between the age and the goal orientation has been mentioned in other researches [7]. Moreover, it was found that ego orientation is connected with the form of participation in sport. However, as there are no similar references, no comparison can be made with this finding. Furthermore, the findings of the present research revealed that the development of moral reasoning and achievement goal of the two genders do not differ much. These findings are related to the findings of other researches [8] on the moral development and the goal achievement [9]. Also, the fact that the present research revealed little influence of the type of sport (among team sports with physical contact) enhanced the statement that the differences in moral reasoning exist only between team and individual sports [10]. The last finding of the present research is that the increase of experience in sport does not influence the moral reasoning and the goal orientation. This finding enhances the statement that sport is a morally "neutral" environment [11] and does not influence the goal orientation [9]. Conclusively, the results of the present research demonstrated that the morality in sport field has a developmental character and enhanced the developmental character of the achievement goal theory.



[1]. Weiss, M.R., & Bredemeier, B. (1983). Journal of Sport Psychology, 5, 216-230.

[2]. Nicholls, J.G. (1989). The Competitive Ethos and Democratic Education. Cambridge.

[3]. Rest, J. (1979). Development in judging moral issues. University Of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

[4]. Duda, J. & Nicholls, J.G. (1992). Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 290-299.

[5]. Proios, M. & Doganis, G. (2003). Perceptual and Motor Skills, 96, 113-126.

[6]. Rest, J. (1986). Moral development, advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger.

[7]. Duda, J. & Hom, H.L.(1993). Pediatric Exercise Science, 5, 234-241.

[8]. Bredemeier, B. (1994). Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 16, 1-14.

[9]. Hodge, K. & Petlichokoff, L. (2000). Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 22, 256-272.

[10]. Bredemeier, B., & Shields, D. (1986). The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 147(1), 7-18.

[11]. Shields, D., & Bredemeier, B. (1984). In W. Straub & J. Williams (Eds.), Cognitive sport psychology. Lansing, NY: Sport Science Associates

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