Relationship between doping and moral disengagement: a systematic review

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Taylor & Francis
In high-performance sport, the relationship between moral disengagement and doping has been investigated in an attempt to understand the psychological aspects involved in the use of prohibited substances. Moral disengagement can be defined as justifications for carrying out antisocial actions without guilt or censorship for these acts, that is, it is possible to disengage moral standards to commit antisocial actions without self condemnation. This concept is defined through the studies of Albert Bandura (1991) and the Social Cognitive Theory, where the eight mechanisms of moral disengagement were developed: moral justification, advantageous comparison, euphemistic language, minimization, ignorance or distortion of consequences, dehumanization, attribution of guilt and displacement of responsibility and diffusion of responsibility. Doping is the name for the use of prohibited substances or methods, capable of promoting physical and/or psychic alterations that artificially improve the athlete’s sporting performance. The present study aimed to systematically identify the articles that show the referred relationship. The method used was the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyzes - PRISMA. The academic bases consulted were Science Direct, PubMed and Wiley, in the month of May 2021, using the following descriptors: (doping and ("moral disengagement"). The research recovered a total of 70 studies, 1 of which was a duplicate study. 69 studies, 56 were excluded by the eligibility criteria. The inclusion criteria were studies with a central theme related to doping and moral disengagement, studies with high performance sports, studies from the last 5 years (2017-2021), studies with quantitative bias and studies with free and online access in full. The studies were evaluated by 3 judges regarding the inclusion and exclusion criteria, being considered, unanimously, 13 eligible studies within the criteria established in this review. The results showed that the athletes’ values, motivational climate and social environment are directly and indirectly related to the probable use of prohibited substances to optimize performance. It is noteworthy that the evidence points to a doping model based on the Social Cognitive Theory, in which self-regulatory effectiveness is related to the probability of using prohibited substances that improve performance through moral disengagement.© 2021 International Society of Sport Psychology.
This conference paper is not available at CUD collection. The version of scholarly record of this article is published in International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology (2021), available online at:
sport high performance, competitive sport, cheating, unfair advantage, social psychology
Lacerda, A., Mataruna-Dos-Santos, L. J., Muniz, C., & Covas, A. C. (2021). Relationship between doping and moral disengagement: a systematic review. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 19, (supp.1), pp. S406-S407.