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Using a Social Psychology Perspective to Understand and Prevent Doping in Sport: Lessons from Europe

Event Type
Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism; Illinois International; European Union Center
Huff Hall 112
Nov 11, 2022   12:00 - 1:00 pm  
Maria Kavussanu, PhD
Originating Calendar
European Union Center Events

The use of banned performance-enhancing substances, also known as doping, is a major threat to the health of athletes and the integrity and image of sport. Therefore, understanding and preventing doping in sport is important. My research, conducted in the UK, Greece, Italy, and Denmark has shown that a range of social and psychological factors are associated with doping likelihood, which is a proxy for doping behaviour. Some of the factors that are likely to inhibit or prevent doping are a strong moral identity, anticipated guilt for doping, and self-efficacy to resist the temptation to dope. Conversely, moral disengagement, which refers to the justifications people use for transgressive behavior and a performance motivational climate (i.e., a coaching environment that puts too much emphasis on winning) are likely to facilitate doping. Based on this research, which received funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, and with collaborators from the UK, Greece, and Italy, I developed and evaluated two doping prevention programmes with British, Greek, and Italian athletes as participants. In my talk, I will discuss this research, outlining the development and content of these programmes and presenting evidence for their effectiveness in reducing athletes’ doping likelihood in the short and long term.  

Dr. Kavussanu’s presentation is supported by the Birmingham-Illinois Partnership Discovery, Engagement and Education (BRIDGE) initiative from Illinois International and by European Union Center.

About the speaker: 

Maria Kavussanu is a Professor of Sport & Exercise Psychology at the University of Birmingham, UK. She holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a MSc from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a BSc from the University of Athens, Greece. Maria’s main area of research is morality in sport, which she has been studying for over twenty years using a variety of methods and research designs. Her latest research focuses on understanding and preventing doping in sport. Maria has published over 140 journal articles and book chapters. She has received funding for her research from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the International Olympic Committee, and research awards from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity and the European College of Sport Science. Maria is the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology published by the American Psychological Association and has been involved with most sport psychology journals as Editorial Board member or Associate Editor. She has delivered keynote addresses at several international conferences including the International Society of Sport Psychology, Spain, the Italian Association of Sport Psychology, Italy, and the 3rd International Congress of Sport & Exercise Psychology, Turkey. In her spare time, Maria plays tennis and swims.

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