Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 1113–1127 | Cite as

Disentangling the Relations between Social Identity and Prosocial and Antisocial Behavior in Competitive Youth Sport

  • Mark W. Bruner
  • Ian D. Boardley
  • Alex J. Benson
  • Kathleen S. Wilson
  • Zachary Root
  • Jennifer Turnnidge
  • Jordan Sutcliffe
  • Jean Côté
Empirical Research


The social identities formed through membership on extracurricular activity groups may contribute to the frequency with which youth engage in prosocial and antisocial behavior. However, researchers have yet to disentangle the individual- and group-level processes social identification effects operate through; sex and perceived norms may also moderate such effects. Thus, we investigated the hierarchical and conditional relations between three dimensions of social identity (i.e., ingroup ties, cognitive centrality, ingroup affect) and prosocial and antisocial behavior in youth ice hockey players (N = 376; 33% female). Multilevel analyses demonstrated antisocial teammate and opponent behavior were predicted by cognitive centrality at the team level. Further, prosocial teammate behavior was predicted by cognitive centrality and ingroup ties at the individual-level. Also, perceived norms for prosocial teammate behavior moderated the relations between ingroup ties, cognitive centrality, and ingroup affect and prosocial teammate behaviour. Finally, sex moderated the relations between cognitive centrality/ingroup affect and antisocial opponent behavior. This work demonstrates the multilevel and conditional nature of how social identity dimensions relate to youth prosocial and antisocial behavior.


Group dynamics Team identification Personal development Physical activity 



This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (#435-2016-0591, #43502014-0038). The authors wish to thank all the participating hockey associations, coaches, teams, and young athletes that participated in the study.

Authors’ Contributions

M.W.B. conceptualized and designed the study, supervised overall data acquisition, conducted the analysis, provided interpretation of findings, and led the writing of the manuscript; I.D.B. conceptualized and designed the study, conducted the data analysis, provided interpretation of the findings, and critically revised the manuscript; A.J.B. contributed to the conceptualization and design of the study, conducted the data analysis, provided interpretation of the findings, and drafted and critically revised parts of the manuscript; K.S.W. contributed to the conceptualization and design of the study, conducted the data analysis, provided interpretation of the findings, and critically revised the manuscript; Z.R. supervised data acquisition, participated in drafting and revising parts of the manuscript; J.T. contributed to the conceptualization and design, supervised data acquisition, and critically revised the manuscript; J.S. contributed to the data collection, participated in drafting and revising parts of the manuscript; J.C. conceptualized and designed the study, contributed to data analysis and interpretation of findings, and critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

The institutional review board at Nipissing University has approved this study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from the parents of the youth athlete participants. All youth athletes gave active assent prior to administration of the survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark W. Bruner
    • 1
  • Ian D. Boardley
    • 2
  • Alex J. Benson
    • 3
  • Kathleen S. Wilson
    • 4
  • Zachary Root
    • 5
  • Jennifer Turnnidge
    • 6
  • Jordan Sutcliffe
    • 1
  • Jean Côté
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Physical and Health EducationNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada
  2. 2.School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyWestern UniversityLondonCanada
  4. 4.Department of KinesiologyCalifornia State UniversityFullertonUSA
  5. 5.Faculty of Applied SciencesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  6. 6.School of Kinesiology and Health StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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