Effects of situational costs and benefits on projected doping likelihood

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Our primary aim was to compare the influence of a range of situational factors (costs and benefits) on projected doping likelihood in hypothetical situations. A secondary aim was to examine whether doping likelihood was related to personal social cognitive factors implicated in the regulation of ethical behavior by Bandura's (1991) theory of moral thought and action and Aquino and Reed's (2002) model of moral identity.


Using a cross-sectional design, projected doping likelihood was assessed indirectly via hypothetical scenarios.


Athletes indicated the likelihood of doping by another athlete in hypothetical situations and completed measures of moral identity, doping self-regulatory efficacy, and doping moral disengagement.


Projected doping likelihood varied considerably among the hypothetical situations. Athletes consistently judged that doping by an imaginary athlete was least likely when there was an increased risk of death and high chances of being caught, banned, and fined. In contrast, doping was judged as most likely when associated with career advancement, encouragement from the athlete's entourage, large financial gains, and low chances of being caught, banned and fined. In situations where doping had costs for the athlete, moral identity was directly related to the likelihood of doping, whereas in situations where doping accrued benefits to the athlete, moral identity was indirectly related to doping likelihood via increased doping self-regulatory efficacy and decreased doping moral disengagement.


The current findings show that projected doping likelihood is influenced by situational and personal factors.

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