Moral Behavior in the Locker Room Predicts Perceptions of Task Cohesion in Youth Ice Hockey Players

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Scott A. Graupensperger, Marie S. Tisak

Task cohesion (i.e., perceptions of team unity towards a task goal and positive feelings towards one’s own involvement) is associated with myriad psychosocial benefits for youth athletes. Accordingly, sport researchers and youth sport stakeholders are interested in ways of fostering task cohesion. Recent work has found evidence that prosocial and antisocial behaviors among teammates are associated with athletes’ perceptions of task cohesion; however, this research has been limited to moral behavior that takes place during gameplay. Despite youth sport experiences extending well beyond practices and games, we know very little about how moral behavior between teammates, in settings outside gameplay, relates to perceptions of task cohesion. To address this knowledge gap, the current study investigated whether prosocial and antisocial behaviors in the locker room setting were associated with perceptions of task cohesion in a sample of 238 youth male ice hockey players (Mage = 10.75). Using hierarchical regression analyses, our results revealed that (a) perceptions of peer prosocial behavior was positively associated with task cohesion, (b) perceptions of peer antisocial behavior was negatively associated with task cohesion, and (c) self-reported perceptions of participants’ own moral behavior was not significantly associated with task cohesion. Given the association with perceptions of task cohesion, these findings underline the value in promoting prosocial behavior and reducing antisocial behavior in sport settings outside gameplay and hold multiple theoretical and practical implications. Notably, moral behavior that takes place outside gameplay settings may be related to perceptions of task cohesion that primarily relates to goals and interactions during gameplay.
DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2018-0047
Key words
youth sport, group dynamics, prosocial behavior, antisocial behavior, adult supervision

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