Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anthropologist examines the motivating factors behind hazing

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
It happens in military units, street gangs and even among athletes on sports teams. In some cultures, the rituals mark the transition from adolescence to adulthood. And in fraternities and sororities, it's practically a given. With a long history of seemingly universal acceptance, the practice of hazing is an enduring anthropological puzzle.

It happens in military units, street gangs and even among athletes on sports teams. In some cultures, the rituals mark the transition from adolescence to adulthood. And in fraternities and sororities, it's practically a given.

With a long history of seemingly universal acceptance, the practice of hazing is an enduring anthropological puzzle. Why have so many cultures incorporated it into their group behavior? Aldo Cimino, a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara, seeks to answer that question. His work is highlighted in the online edition of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

"Hazing exists in radically different cultures around the world, and the ethnographic record is replete with examples of initiation rites that include hazing," said Cimino. "It is a practice that cultures continually rediscover and invest themselves in. The primary goal of my research is to understand why."

One hypothesis Cimino is exploring involves evolved psychology. "The human mind may be designed to respond to new group members in a variety of ways, and one of those ways may be something other than a hug," he said. "I'm not claiming that hazing is inevitable in human life, that everyone will haze, or that nothing will reduce hazing. But I am suggesting that the persistence of hazing across different social, demographic and ecological environments suggests that our shared, evolved psychology may be playing a role."

Hazing and bullying have a lot in common -- individuals who possess some kind of power abuse those who don't -- but what makes hazing strange, according to Cimino, is that it's directed at future allies. "It's very rare for bullies to say, 'I'm going to bully you for three months, but after that we're going to be bros,' but that's the sort of thing that happens with hazing."

Cimino suggested that in some human ancestral environments, aspects of hazing might have served to protect veteran members from threats posed by newcomers. "It's almost as though the period of time around group entry was deeply problematic," he said. "This may have been a time during which coalitions were exploited by newcomers. Our intuitions about how to treat newcomers may reflect this regularity of the past. Abusing newcomers -- hazing -- may have served to temporarily alter their behavior, as well as select out uncommitted newcomers when membership was non-obligatory."

Cimino performed a study on a representative sample of the United States, in which participants imagined themselves as members of hypothetical organizations. Organizations that participants believed had numerous benefits for newcomers (e.g., status, protection) were also those that inspired more hazing. "In my research I've found that group benefits that could quickly accrue for newcomers -- automatic benefits -- predict people's desire to haze," he said.

"This isn't the only variable that matters -- there's some effect of age and sex, for example -- but the effect of automatic benefits suggests that potential vectors of group exploitation alter people's treatment of newcomers in predictable ways," Cimino continued.

He cautioned that scientists are a long way from understanding hazing completely. "Hazing is a complex phenomenon that has more than one cause, so it would be a mistake to believe that I have solved the puzzle. However, every study brings us a little closer to understanding a phenomenon that seems increasingly visible and important," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aldo Cimino. Predictors of hazing motivation in a representative sample of the United States. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2013; 34 (6): 446 DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.08.007

Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Anthropologist examines the motivating factors behind hazing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023141153.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2013, October 23). Anthropologist examines the motivating factors behind hazing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023141153.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Anthropologist examines the motivating factors behind hazing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023141153.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Research from Washington University suggest people with conscientious spouses have greater career success. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Researchers say certain markers in the blood can predict risk of psychosis later in the life. The test can aid in early treatment for the condition. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

AP (Sep. 25, 2014) Teri Tacheny, a harpist, has a loyal following of fans who appreciate her soothing music. Every month, gorillas, orangutans and monkeys amble down to hear her play at the Como Park Zoo in Minnesota. (Sept. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins