In 1997, during a Manchester United v Leeds United match, Roy Keane attempted to trip Alf-Inge Haaland by kicking his leg and in doing so injured himself by tearing his cruciate ligament. Haaland felt Keane was feigning injury and stood over him shouting at him. In 2001 the players met again in the Manchester Derby this time, in which Keane ran towards Haaland putting his studs into the top of Haaland’s knee and causing a serious injury that meant Haaland never played a full professional football match again (ESPN, 2012:).
A theory that can explain this behaviour from Roy Keane is he General Aggression Model (GAM) (Anderson & Bushman, 2002) suggests that any aggressive act starts with an initial Personal or situation factors which then cause an Affect, Cognition or behavioural response. The next step to this response is for the person to go through a decision process, weighing up their actions. Finally the action comes of the decision process in either an impulsive action or as a thoughtful action, depending on what was decided in the thought process.
In terms of the moral aspects of this behaviour, the situation can be linked to the Model of Moral Action in Sport (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995). This Model has four main stages, starting with the interpretation stage I which an event happens and there is a cause for a moral judgement. This goes on to the judgement that the situation or behaviour was not right or fair, leading to the final stages involving moral intention and behaviour. This is the moment when an intention is created and then carried out on the current situation.
The General Aggression Model has been supported, mainly by Bushman & Anderson (2002). This paper involved using violent video games in a test to see if this resulted in hostile acts. The research findings supported their original theory, showing that the General aggression Model is correct and can be supported and justified by further research. Parrot (2008) has also supported the General Aggression Model using thorough research. This model has further been applied to world disasters and the people behind them e.g. Hitler and the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in New York (Anderson & Carnagey, 2004). Although this is not in a sporting context, it is easy to see how the general aggression model can be applied to situations.
On the other hand, there is a potential to argue against the General Aggression Model. Ferguson & Dyck & (2012) state that the downfall of the GAM is that the model considers increased aggression to be harmful. DeWall, Anderson & Bushman (2011) stated that “Aggression breeds aggression, and it seems to cause more problems than it solves.”. This is something that is not agreed with by Ferguson & Dyck & (2012). They relate this view to Bushman & Anderson’s (2002) previously mentioned study on violent video games which led to Californian law being changed to stop minors buying violent games, as this study had suggested the games were “harmful to minors”. This law was later quashed as the Californian Supreme court saw this law as not necessary (Hilden, 2011) and therefore did not believe the research done by Bushman & Anderson (2002).
The most recent support of the GAM comes from Gilbert, Daffern, Talevski and Ogloff (2013). The study gives an insight into aggressive cognitions that occur with offenders committing aggressive behaviour with a specific look at the application of the General Aggression model. This research has been backed up by papers from Anderson & Huesman (2007), Collie, Vess & Murdoch (2007) and Slotter & Finkel (2011), all of which agree with the principle and general application of the General Aggression Model in many scenarios.
Although the is little literature on the support of The Model of Moral action in sport, the principles of the Model have been supported by Kavussanu and Roberts (2001) in the way that both these authors, and Shields & Bredemeier (1995), believe “sport builds characters” and that athletes will decide on their actions depending on if they believe it is right morally. The latest research on moral decision making by Conway and Gawronski (2012) suggest that the moral decision of committing an action is dependent on the intrinsic nature of the action, this is explained as “harming others is wrong regardless of its consequences”. This statement does not back up the Model of Moral action in Sport as this model believes an individual may commit an offence that harms others, if the person feels there will be no consequence (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995).
The General Aggression Model (Anderson & Bushman, 2002) can be applied in the case of Keane and Haaland as there was an initial action (the trip on Haaland, resulting in Kean’s injury). The next steps of the Model is backed up by evidence in Roy Keane’s autobiography as he described how he saw the opportunity arise to execute his pre-meditated tackle to injure Haaland. The autobiography says that; “I’d waited long enough. I hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that”. Keane went on to describe himself as having “no remorse” for the injury and described his attitude as “an eye for an eye” (Keane & Dunphy, 2002). This links in with the intent to commit the injury, it proves there has been a thought process in deciding to injury Haaland and therefore the action that occurs at the end of this process.
Roy Keane’s lack of remorse can link in to the Model of Moral Action in Sport (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995) in the way that Keane felt the need to comment on the situation or behaviour in his autobiography in order to give his view of the aggressive act. Keane clearly went out with the intent to injure the player as he used the term “I’d waited long enough”, thus making the judgement and intention part of the model. He then carried out his intention and commented that this was “an eye for an eye”, leaving him believing the behaviour he has displayed is morally acceptable.
Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2002). Human aggression. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 27-51
Anderson, C.A., & Carnagey, N.L. (2004). Violent evil and the general aggression model. The Social Psychology of Good and Evil. Pp. 168-192. New York: Guilford Publications
Anderson C.A, & Huesmann L.R (2007). Human aggression: A social cognitive view. The Sage handbook of social psychology. pp 259-287
Bushman, B.J. & Anderson, C.A. (2002) Violent Video Games and Hostile Expectations: A Test of the General Aggression Model. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 28, 12 pp 1679-1686
Collie, R.M., Vess J., & Murdoch, S. (2007). Violence-related cognition: Current research. Aggressive offenders’ cognition: Theory, research and practise pp 179-198. Chichester, UK. Wiley
Conway, P. & Gawronski, B. (2012). Deontological and Utilitarian Inclinations in Moral Decision Making, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 104, 2. pp 216-235
DeWall, C., Anderson, C.A, Bushman, B.J (2011). The General Aggression model: Theoretical extensions to violence. Psychology of Violence, 1 pp245-258
ESPN. (2012). Keane takes revenge on Haaland. Retrived 20/11/13 ESPN.co.uk/football/sport/story/182508.html
Ferguson, C.J, & Dyck. (2012) Paradigm change in aggression research: The time has come to retire the General Aggression Model. Aggresion and Violent Behaviour. 17, 3. pp 220-228
Gilbert, F., Daffern, M., Talevski, D., & Ogloff, J.R.P. (2013). The Role of Aggression-Related Cognition in the Aggression Behaviour of Offenders: A General Aggression Model Perspective. Criminal Justice and Behaviour. 40, 2. pp 119-138
Hilden, J. (2011) The Suprememe Court’s Ruling on “Violent” Video Games. Retrieved 26/11/13.
Kavussanu, M., & Roberts, G.C., (2001). Moral Functioning in Sport: An Achievement Goal Perspective. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. 23 pp 37-54. Human Kinetics
Keane, R., Dunphy, E. (2002) Keane: The Autobiography. Michael Joseph; 1st edition.
Parrot, D.J. (2008) A theoretical framework for antigay aggression: Review of established and hypothesized effect within the context of general aggression model. Clinical Psychology Review. 28, 6.
Shields, D.L., & Bredemeier, B.l. (2007). Advances in sport morality research. In G. Tenenbaum & R.C. Eklund (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (3rd ed.) (pp. 662-684). New York: Wiley.
Slotter, E.B., & Finkel, E.J. (2011). I 3 Theory: Instigating, Impelling, and inhibiting factors in aggression. Human agrresion and violence: Causes, maifestations, and consequences. pp 35-52. Washington DC: American Psychological Assocation.
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About Nick Gearing
Performance Analysis intern at Gillingham FC. P.E and Sport & Exercise Science Student.