The impact of moral judgment and moral disengagement on hazing attitudes and bystander behavior in college males
Over half of students involved in collegiate clubs and organizations report that they have participated in hazing activities (Allan & Madden, 2008). Prior research has shown a link between moral development and the perpetration of various anti-social behaviors, including sexual assault (Carroll, 2009), bullying among adolescents (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara & Pastorellie, 1996) and cheating and academic dishonesty among college students (Cummings, Dyas, Maddux & Kochman, 2001). To date, no studies have examined the relationships between hazing, moral judgment and moral disengagement. This study supplemented the existing explanations for hazing by hypothesizing and testing a model in which moral judgment and moral disengagement influenced hazing-supportive attitudes and willingness to intervene as a bystander in a hazing situation. Comparisons were made between fraternity members and non-members. The Defining Issues Test-2, the Moral Disengagement Scale, and a pair of hazing and bullying vignettes were administered to undergraduate college students from four large research institutions in the Southeastern United States. The sample included both fraternity members (N=75) and non-members (N=125). The results indicated significant differences between fraternity members and non-members on measures of moral disengagement (t (198) = 2.22, p<.05, d = .32), moral judgment as measured by the N-2 score (t (198) = -2.10, p<.05, d = -.31), hazing-supportive attitude (t (198) = -2.73, p<.05, d = .37), and willingness to intervene as a bystander in a hazing scenario (t (198) = 2.06, p<.05, d = .30). Path analysis indicated a significant path for fraternity members between moral judgment, moral disengagement, and willingness to intervene as a bystander in a fraternity-hazing scenario compared to willingness to intervene in a bullying scenario. A test of difference in independent R2 indicated differences in the paths between fraternity members and non-members. The relationship between the constructs indicates that moral development may be a valuable tool in hazing prevention, and indicates that further research in this area is needed.