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Hazing is defined by the Ramapo Journal of Law and Society as: ''any activity, required implicitly or explicitly as a condition of initiation or continued membership in an organization, that may negatively impact the physical or psychological well-being." Hazing can be dangerous and is often deadly. But you probably wouldn't hear this coming out of the mouths of pledges of U.S. college fraternities. In all likelihood, they've convinced themselves they enjoy it, and psychological studies have shown that. Sharing something brings people together, whether it's a meal, a victory, even traumatic events like hazing.
Social psychology explains that hazing produces cognitive dissonance, the mental stress you feel when dealing with two contradictory beliefs. Early social psychology experiments showed that pledges try to dispel this dissonance from hazing in one of two ways: They can convince themselves that the initiation was not very unpleasant, or they can exaggerate the positive characteristics of the group and minimize its negative aspects. The more unpleasant the initiation is, the less they can convince himself of the former, so they have to exaggerate the latter.
A particularly noteworthy experiment in 1959 found that people were more likely to like a group they joined if they did something embarrassing to get in. In this study, researchers had female college students try to get into a book club. Some women went through severe initiation, some went through a mild initiation, and some went through none at all. The researchers found that those who went through the "severe" initiation rated the group as significantly more attractive than those women who went through other initiations. Basically the harder it was to get into a group the more they claimed they liked it.
The Effect of Severity of Initiation on Liking For A Group (MIT)
"It is a frequent observation that persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort."
Going to College and Unpacking Hazing (Colgate)
"Initiation practices likely support group functioning by promoting group-relevant skills and attitudes, reinforcing status hierarchies, and stimulating cognitive, behavioral, and affective forms of social dependency."