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Title: Self-affirmation and performance enhancement substance use in sport and exercise
Author: Barkoukis, Vasileios
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 2266
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2018
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Doping use is among the most important threats of modern competitive and amateur sports, with increasingly more competitive and recreational athletes using performance and image enhancing drugs. Over the last decade, a large body of evidence has shown that social-cognitive theories can be usefully applied to better understand the psychological processes underlying doping use, and researchers in this area have called for behaviour change interventions. Health risk communication represents an important area for intervention and is especially pertinent to the moral and health risk associated with doping use, and self-affirmation theory presents a relevant framework for communicating health and moral messages against doping use. The present thesis examined, for the first time, the effectiveness of self-affirmation manipulations in changing key social cognitive variables that have been associated with doping use in competitive and recreational sports. For that purpose, three experimental studies were conducted. Study 1 investigated the effects of a self-affirmation intervention on the decision making process towards doping use among 60 exercisers who self-reported nutritional supplement use - a known risk factor for doping use. Participants in the intervention group engaged in a kindness affirmation task and control participants were asked to respond to questions on a range of unrelated issues. Both groups completed a set of social cognitive variables derived from the theory of planned behaviour. Independent samples t-tests showed significant differences between the experimental and control groups in moral norms, descriptive norms, and anticipated regret. Situational temptation and anticipated regret significantly predicted doping use intentions. Study 2 was designed to test the effect of self-affirmation on the decision making process towards doping use among 60 elite athletes privately admitting doping use. The same manipulation with study 1 was used. After the manipulation participants read a message about the health and moral hazards of doping use, and completed measures of intentions and attitudes towards doping use, social and moral norms, self-efficacy beliefs, and anticipated regret. The results of the analyses showed that self-affirmed athletes reported weaker intentions and situational temptation scores as compared to non-affirmed participants. In addition, the self-affirmation manipulation demonstrated a significant effect on doping use intentions over and above the effect of the social-cognitive variables. Study 3 investigated whether self-affirmation induces message acceptance through mental construal in recreational exercisers who admitted doping use. Participants were exposed to the same manipulation and message used in study 1. After reading the message they completed the Construal Level Identification Form, a measure of message acceptance, and the measures of social-cognitive variables assessed in study 1. The results of the analyses did not indicate statistically significant effects. It was concluded that the effect of self-affirmation manipulation and social cognition on doping use intentions varies to a notable extend implying a different mechanism associated with the formation of doping use intentions among dopers and non-dopers, as well as among competitive athletes and exercisers. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications for doping-related prevention interventions.
Supervisor: Rowe, Richard ; Lazuras, Lambros Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available