What makes hazing acceptable? Examining the predictors of student and student-athletes' ratings of hazing acceptability


Athletic hazing is a problem across North American high school and university campuses (Allan & Madden, 2008; Hamilton, Scott, O'Sullivan, & LaChapelle, 2013). Although hazing is often defined as "any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers, regardless of the person's willingness to participate" (Hoover & Pollard, 1999), there is still some ambiguity regarding what specific actions and behaviours are encompassed within this definition. What some might consider an acceptable initiation activity, others might consider to be hazing. As such, the purpose of this study was to assess which factors (gender, sport-level, past participation, moral disengagement, attitudes about initiation and hazing, etc.) affect and initiation activity's level of acceptability. Participants included 386 students and student-athletes from various Canadian universities. The results indicated that past participation in an activity (as a perpetrator or victim) was the biggest predictor of ratings of hazing acceptability. Other significant predictors included gender, moral disengagement, attitudes, and preference for consistency. The broader theoretical and practical implications of these findings will be discussed in detail.

Acknowledgments: University Research Endowment Fund