Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Leslee A. Fisher

Committee Members

Lauren Moret, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Lars Dzikus


To date, little research exists with regard to how athletes think about morality within sport (e.g., Bredemeier & Shields, 1984, 1986; Kavussanu, 2007, 2008; Shields & Bredemeier, 1995; Weiss, 1987), and even less exists which explores the concepts of bracketed morality or game reasoning within sport contexts (e.g., Bredemeier & Shields, 1984, 1986; Kavussanu, Boardley, Sager, & Ring, 2013. The same is true for research related to sport moral identity (e.g., Bredemeier & Shields, 1984, 1986; Kavussanu, 2007, 2008; Kavussanu, Willoughby, & Ring, 2012; Sage & Kavussanu, 2010; Sage, Kavussuanu, & Duda, 2006; Shields & Bredemeier, 1995; Weiss, 1987) and none, to date, has explored character strengths within sport. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to use interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; Smith, 1996) to explore U.S. NCAA DI female soccer players’ perceptions regarding morality in sport. The results are presented in two separate manuscripts; one focuses on moral identity in DI female soccer players and the other focuses on moral dilemmas faced by DI female soccer players. For the first study, results included female soccer players’ perceptions of (a) their moral and athlete selves, (b) the saliency of each and (c) any conflicts related to these two self-identity components. For the second study, results were developed from two major themes: (a) On-field dilemmas and (b) Offfield dilemmas. Implications for sport psychology consultants (SPCs) are twofold. First, SPCs need to be more aware of what elite-level female soccer players value in their sport, as well as help them build on their moral strengths. Secondly, SPCs should work toward understanding the dilemmas female soccer players face in their sport as well as ways to help them handle such dilemmas.

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