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Nicole McNichols and Tabitha Kirkland discuss the psychological aspects of hazing in this article from The Daily.

Driven by multiple levels of fear, hazing remains an unspoken yet accepted norm in student groups

Alyson Podesta
Jan 4, 2018

Depending on your social circles while in college, the practice of hazing may seem to be a familiar phenomenon or a distant and incomprehensible act to you. Many students fall into the former category. According to , over 50 percent of college students in group-oriented organizations have experienced it. Not every student may experience hazing first hand, but it’s safe to say that when examined critically, its presence in campus groups is baffling.

Hazing is the practice of forcing new initiates to a group (whether it be a fraternity, sorority, sports team, club, or another organization) to do certain tasks or endure a number of negative experiences. These tasks and experiences can range from the slightly embarrassing to dangerous, and sometimes, fatal. Oftentimes, alcohol is abused during hazing. Instances of severe alcohol poisoning are often cited as negative impacts of hazing.

There are many things that can motivate students enough to allow them to accept hazing. “You cannot underestimate people’s need to belong,” UW psychology professor Dr. Nicole McNichols said.

For some, a sense of community is inextricable from self-esteem. As a result, being hazed seems a small price to pay for a group of individuals to be deeply bonded with. Some may even argue that going through the process of being hazed with one’s peers can bond them more closely. As Dr. Tabitha Kirkland of the UW’s psychology department notes, “Shared hardship can bond people together.” Furthering this, many students may perceive a lack of alternatives; in other words, if they don’t belong to a certain social group, they will have no friends at all, a terrifying thought to many, especially on such a large campus.

Of course, there is no real reason hazing needs to occur, yet it remains a long-standing tradition in many groups. Kirkland suggests that there are a number of psychological reasons behind this.

“It’s thought that oftentimes when we go through something that is difficult, we have the need to justify why we put ourselves through that kind of situation,” Kirkland said. “This is a term called effort justification.”

Read the entire article here .