The effects of self-affirmation manipulation on decision making about doping use in elite athletes

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Abstract

Objectives

Doping use is an ongoing concern in both competitive and recreational sports. The present study set out to investigate the effects of a self-affirmation intervention on the decision-making process relevant to doping among elite athletes who were doping users.

Design

A between subject experimental design was employed.

Method

Sixty competitive athletes using doping substances took part in the study and were randomly assigned into active control and experimental groups. In the experimental group, participants received a self affirmation manipulation, whereas those in the active control group completed a neutral task. Subsequently, all participants were exposed to information relevant to the health side effects and moral aspects of doping use and subsequently completed a questionnaire about doping intentions and related social cognitions (i.e., attitudes, social and moral norms, self-efficacy beliefs, and anticipated regret).

Results

Independent samples t-tests showed that self-affirmed participants reported significantly lower intentions to dope and temptation to engage in doping under risk-conducive situations. Multiple regression analysis showed that, whereas attitudes, moral norms and anticipated regret predicted doping use intentions, the effects of self-affirmation were not mediated by these social cognitive predictors of doping intentions.

Conclusions

The study presents novel findings about the role of self-affirmation in the decision-making process relevant to doping use and can have direct implications for preventive interventions.

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