Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville Health & Kinesiology Professor Earns National Honor for Dissertation

KINGSVILLE - May 01, 2011

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

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Dr. Stacy Gaines, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, received the Sport and Exercise Psychology Dissertation Award from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) during the annual NASPE Hall of Fame ceremony in April.

According to a statement from the NASPE, the Sport and Exercise Psychology Dissertation Award is a national honor given to an individual in recognition of student research that has the greatest potential for making a significant contribution to the knowledge base in sports psychology.

Gaines’ dissertation—“Antecedents of Moral Disengagement in Sports” –examines the use of moral disengagement from ethical standards that typically prevent unethical behavior among adolescent athletes engaging in sports. Gaines collected data from more than 400 youth soccer and basketball athletes. The data considers a set of proposed antecedents of moral disengagement, including sport empathy, moral awareness, goal orientations, perceived teammate behavior and sport importance and their impact on moral disengagement and aggressive, cheating behaviors.

Gaines notes the findings of her research indicate that athletes who report higher concern for others, report higher awareness that a decision is moral in nature and define success in terms of learning, mastery and improvement are less likely to morally disengage in the sport domain. On the other hand, athletes who define success in terms of outperforming others or perceive their teammates to be more approving of cheating or aggressive behaviors, may be more likely to engage in aggressive or cheating behaviors because they are more likely to morally disengage in the sport domain.

“Winning this award is certainly an honor,” Gaines said. “In some ways it validates the hard work and many hours put into pulling together a high quality dissertation. There are certainly times in the process that I could have cut corners to be done sooner, but being recognized for work that makes a significant contribution to my field makes me glad I did not,” Gaines said.

Department of Health and Kinesiology chair Dr. Chris Hearon said the entire department is proud of Gaines’ accomplishments.

“This is a very prestigious national award and she is clearly deserving of this recognition. However, we are not remotely surprised that she received this honor,” Hearon said. “We knew she was exceptional when we recruited her out of Purdue three years ago. She has been an outstanding addition to our superior faculty in the Department of Health and Kinesiology.”

Gaines joined the faculty of A&M-Kingsville in 2008, becoming an assistant professor 2010. She holds a bachelor’s in kinesiology a master’s in physical education from the University of Northern Colorado and a doctorate in health and kinesiology from Purdue University.

Gaines has published scores of scholarly articles and is a member of numerous, prestigious professional societies, including the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (and Research Consortium), and the American College of Sports Medicine.

About the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)

The preeminent national authority on physical education and a recognized leader in sport and physical activity, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) is a non-profit professional membership association that sets the standards for practice in physical education and sport. NASPE’s 15,000 members include researchers and college/university faculty who prepare physical activity professionals. NASPE seeks to enhance knowledge, improve professional practice and increase support for high-quality physical education, sport and physical activity programs. It is the largest of the five national associations that make up the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. For more information, visit www.naspeinfo.org.


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