Ridiculing new members of student associations during initiation rituals seems counterproductive. The tradition of severe hazings with too much alcohol, shouting and abuse is in need of improvement.
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Student associations, fraternities and sororities cherish the deeply rooted tradition of hazing new members before they are allowed to join. For example, aspirants have to drink a lot of alcohol, are not allowed to take a shower for a week, have to act foolishly, and are being laughed at or publicly judged on their appearance. Every group has its own initiation rituals that range from innocent to severe. One thing they have in common: humiliation and degradation often play a major role. It is thought they should stimulate the process of bonding.
Social psychologist Liesbeth Mann studied the emotion of humiliation in interpersonal, intra-group and inter-group context. She explains how uneven power relations in groups can lead to escalating situations resulting in aggression, humiliation and violence. A regularly occurring aspect of life within student associations as well as sports clubs, prisons and the army. This was also examined in 1971 in the famous Stanford Prison experiment which was prematurely ended because of the unethical situation that arose during the experiment. Liesbeth Mann shows that there is a negative connection between severe hazing and group affiliations and provides recommendations for student associations organizing initiations to ensure positive experiences and stimulate a sense of community.
Dr. Liesbeth Mann studied Social Psychology and Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Amsterdam. In 2017 she obtained her PhD at the same university. Her PhD research focused on the emotion of humiliation in interpersonal, intra-group, and inter-group context. In addition, she worked on an EU-sponsored project on violent radicalization called SAFIRE and was the principal investigator in a project on resilience to extremist messages, commissioned by the Dutch government. Her research interests lie in emotions and intergroup relations, in particular the role of (group-based) emotions in intergroup conflict and reconciliation. As of September 2018 she works as a lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences (Department of Organization Science) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.