Doping behaviour in mixed martial arts athletes: the roles of social norms and self-regulatory efficacy

Michael Petrou, Lambros Lazuras, Mathew Hillier, Dara Mojtahedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined, for the first time, the multivariate association between social norms, negative self-conscious emotions, and self-regulatory efficacy and doping intentions in an international sample of MMA athletes, with an emphasis on moderation and mediation effects. We also examined whether MMA athletes with different doping experiences also differed in doping-related self-conscious emotions, self-regulatory efficacy, social norms and doping intentions. A cross-sectional survey-based design was used, and structured anonymous online questionnaires were completed by 249 MMA athletes from 16 countries. Three groups of users were identified based on self-reported doping use: never users, never user contemplators, and ever users. One-way ANOVA showed that athletes with differed doping experiences gave significantly different scores in social norms, self-conscious emotions, self-regulatory efficacy, and doping intentions. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that doping intentions were significantly associated with perceiving greater social approval of doping among referent others (injunctive norms), anticipating less negative self-conscious emotions from doping, and with lower levels of self-regulatory efficacy, after controlling for the effect of past doping use. Moderated regression analysis showed that self-conscious emotions did not interact with social norms in predicting doping intentions. Regression-based mediation analysis further showed that self-regulatory efficacy significantly mediated the association of injunctive norms and self-conscious emotions with doping intentions. Our findings highlight the role of social norms and self-conscious emotions in the decision-making process underlying doping in MMA athletes. The practical implications of our findings are discussed within the context of clean sport education and related campaigns to prevent doping in MMA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-1101
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


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