Social identity and prosocial and antisocial behavior in youth sport


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Abstract

Objectives:To examine (a) the effects of social identity on prosocial and antisocial behavior toward teammates and opponents, and (b) whether any effects of social identity on prosocial and antisocial behavior were mediated by cohesion.Design:Prospective, observational.Methods:Male and female youth-sport participants (N = 329; Mage = 15.88 years) completed questionnaires at the beginning, middle and end of the season assessing three dimensions of social identity (cognitive centrality, ingroup ties, ingroup affect), cohesion (task, social) and prosocial and antisocial behavior toward teammates and opponents.Results:With the exception of cognitive centrality (which was therefore not analyzed further), all measures of study variables proved reliable. Structural equation modeling indicated the following: Ingroup affect had a positive effect on prosocial teammate behavior, Task cohesion mediated a positive effect of ingroup ties on prosocial teammate behavior and a negative effect of ingroup ties and ingroup affect on antisocial behavior toward teammates and opponents. Social cohesion mediated a positive effect of ingroup ties on antisocial behavior toward teammates and opponents. Prosocial opponent behavior was not predicted by any dimension of social identity.Conclusion:The findings highlight that social identity may play a salient role in regulating prosocial and antisocial behavior in youth sport, and changes in cohesion may partially explain these effects.

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