Need for Belonging and Attachment Style in Relation To College Students' Participation in Negative Group Initiation Practices

Heather Canepa, Pace University


Numerous stories have emerged in the media related to the participation of adolescents and young adults in hazing activities as a requirement for initiation into groups. Although group dynamics have been identified as playing a role in engagement of these activities, minimal quantitative and research based information has been completed investigating individual factors that relate to participation. This study examined the relationship between specific individual factors of belongingness, attachment, and discomfort in participation in both acceptable and unacceptable group initiation practices. Possible predictors of engaging in unacceptable behaviors were also investigated. Furthermore, unacceptable practices were delineated into categories of humiliating activities, dangerous/illegal activities, and activities involving substance use based on previous research findings. The final sample consisted of 268 college students from a Mid-Atlantic urban university. Participants completed a packet of 4 surveys and scales, which included a modified hazing survey, the Selfobject Needs Inventory (SONI), the Social Connectedness and Assurance Scales, and the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECRS). Results were mixed in regards to the relationships for belongingness and attachment needs on participation in group initiation activities. The Need for Mirroring was positively associated with participation activities. Higher levels of social connectedness were related to higher levels of participation in acceptable practices and lower participation in dangerous hazing, while lower levels of social assurance were significantly related to higher levels of participation in all negative activities. Higher levels of anxious attachment were associated with higher levels of participation in humiliating and dangerous hazing practices. Age and gender were found to be associated with certain types of group initiation practices. Social assurance was the only variable found to be a significant predictor of engaging in 4 out of the 5 types of participation (overall participation, acceptable, humiliating, and dangerous). Social connectedness was also found to be a significant unique predictor of participation in acceptable practices, only. Higher levels of discomfort were associated with all types of group initiation activities. Lastly, belongingness factors did not moderate the relationship between discomfort and participation in group initiation practices, although significant associations were found between factors. Limitations and implications of findings on the field of school-clinical child psychology were also explored.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Canepa, Heather, "Need for Belonging and Attachment Style in Relation To College Students' Participation in Negative Group Initiation Practices" (2011). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3452330.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)