Boardley Ian D., Smith Alan L., Mills John P., Grix Jonathan, Wynne Ceri (2017). Empathic and Self-Regulatory Processes Governing Doping Behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 8,1495. 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01495
Publication year: 2017

Evidence associating doping behavior with moral disengagement (MD) has accumulated over recent years. However, to date, research examining links between MD and doping has not considered key theoretically grounded influences and outcomes of MD. As such, there is a need for quantitative research in relevant populations that purposefully examines the explanatory pathways through which MD is thought to operate. Toward this end, the current study examined a conceptually grounded model of doping behavior that incorporated empathy, doping self-regulatory efficacy (SRE), doping MD, anticipated guilt and self-reported doping/doping susceptibility. Participants were specifically recruited to represent four key physical-activity contexts and consisted of team- (n = 195) and individual- (n = 169) sport athletes and hardcore- (n = 125) and corporate- (n = 121) gym exercisers representing both genders (nmale = 371; nfemale = 239); self-reported lifetime prevalence of doping across the sample was 13.6%. Each participant completed questionnaires assessing the aforementioned variables. Structural equation modeling indicated strong support for all study hypotheses. Specifically, we established: (a) empathy and doping SRE negatively predicted reported doping; (b) the predictive effects of empathy and doping SRE on reported doping were mediated by doping MD and anticipated guilt; (c) doping MD positively predicted reported doping; (d) the predictive effects of doping MD on reported doping were partially mediated by anticipated guilt. Substituting self-reported doping for doping susceptibility, multisample analyses then demonstrated these predictive effects were largely invariant between males and females and across the four physical-activity contexts represented. These findings extend current knowledge on a number of levels, and in doing so aid our understanding of key psychosocial processes that may govern doping behavior across key physical-activity contexts.