Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



Strawhun, J. (2016). Psychological factors that underlie hazing perceptions: A mixed-methods study. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Susan M. Swearer. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2016

Copyright (c) 2016 Jenna Marie Strawhun


The quantitative phase of this mixed-methods study examined psychological predictors, including previous bullying involvement, moral disengagement, the need to belong, and their influence on students’ perceptions of hypothetical hazing behaviors. The following qualitative phase was used to explain and contextualize Phase I results through an understanding of the psychological processes related to participants’ constructed meanings of their experiences as perpetrators, witnesses, and/or victims of bullying and hazing. Study participants for Phase I and Phase II included undergraduate students enrolled in psychology courses who participated in the study for research credit. Phase II participants also received a $25.00 gift card as compensation for participating.

Multiple regression analyses were used to investigate the hypotheses that previous bullying and victimization experiences, higher levels of moral disengagement, and a higher need to belong would lead to a decreased likelihood of identifying bullying and hazing, as well as intervening in hazing vignettes. Results suggested that participants’ previous victimization experiences significantly increased their ability to define situations as bullying. As predicted, moral disengagement significantly reduced participants’ likelihood of defining situations as bullying and hazing, as well as intervening in the scenarios. Participants with higher needs for belonging were more likely to define situations as bullying and hazing, but were less likely to intervene in the vignettes.

Phase II involved interviews with four undergraduate students who participated in the Phase I surveys. Participants were asked to describe their bullying and hazing experiences, including the dynamic relationships and events that impacted the bullying and hazing incident(s). Qualitative responses were analyzed using constant comparison and domain analysis, and subsequently connected to quantitative data in MAXQDA. Participants’ interviews reflected several of the study variables of moral disengagement, need to belong, acceptability of hazing, and defining hazing on a continuum of mild to serve hazing. This study further expands on bullying and hazing research and supports the use of explanatory mixed-methods designs as a robust methodology for understanding social-ecological, social learning, and personality factors that underlie bullying and hazing.

Advisor: Susan M. Swearer