Gardner, R. E., & Janelle, C.M. (2002). Legitimacy judgments of perceived aggression and assertion by contact and non-contact sport participants. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 33 (3), 290-306.

Abstract:  Legitimacy judgments concerning aggressive behavior in sport are inversely related to moral reasoning. Several researchers have suggested that participation in sport may be detrimental to moral reasoning, but a causal relationship has yet to be determined. The primary purpose of this investigation was to compare perceptions of aggressive and assertive behavior in sport and non-sport situations among male and female athletes and non-athletes. 66 subjects (Ss) were randomly selected and grouped according to 3 sport contact groups based on their athletic experience: high, low, and non-athlete. All Ss viewed 28 clips of aggressive and assertive behavior in a sport and non-sport situation. Ss were asked to judge the legitimacy of the behavior and to rate the acceptability of the behavior. Results indicated that males perceived the behavior in both situations as more legitimate, behavior in athletic situations was rated as more legitimate, and aggressive behavior was less legitimate in both situations. Results reinforce previous findings about the relationship between gender context, moral reasoning, and legitimacy judgments of aggressive behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)