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UCSB anthropologist examines the motivating factors behind hazing
Date:10/23/2013

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) 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
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Contact: Andrea Estrada
andrea.estrada@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-4620
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert

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