The Spectrum of Hazing™

The Spectrum of Hazing is a research-based resource developed by StopHazing researchers, Dr. Elizabeth Allan & Dr. Dave Kerschner.


The Spectrum evolved from a typology (Allan, 2005), or categorizing scheme, where hazing behaviors were characterized by type (subtle, harassment, and violent) to convey that hazing activities span a range of behaviors including those with potential for psychological, and/or physical harm. In each case, power dynamics are operating, but in some cases, the imbalance of power might be characterized as more subtle when compared with behaviors involving more obvious or physical abuse of power.

Explaining the typology, Allan asserted that a power differential operates in all three types of hazing but in some cases, an abuse of power and its potentially harmful impact may be less visible. As such, these hazing behaviors were categorized under the heading of “subtle” whereas behaviors grouped under the heading “harassment” were more likely to be identified as harmful or potentially harmful, and hazing behaviors characterized as “violent” tended to be those more readily recognized as harmful and typically involved more visible forms of power including physical force. 

Since the initial visual was developed, Dr. Allan and Dr. Kerschner added the overlay of the recognition and frequency arrows, adapted from Bringing in the Bystander®. This current visual, developed from the research, outlines the three categories of hazing behavior (intimidation, harassment, and violence) and the inverse relationship between recognition and frequency of the behaviors.

Citation: (Allan, 2005; Allan & Kerschner, 2020; [Adapted from Bringing in the Bystander®], The Spectrum of Hazing™)

Breaking it down

On the left side of the Spectrum are the types of behaviors that can be best described as intimidation hazing behaviors. Research suggests intimidation hazing behaviors occur with high frequency and are less likely to be recognized as “hazing.” These are the types of behaviors often overlooked or explained away as harmless traditions, initiations, and pranks, jokes, and “antics.”

On the right side of the Spectrum are behaviors that people frequently point to as examples of hazing. These behaviors are more easily recognized as hazing. The research indicates these behaviors may occur less frequently than other forms of hazing but are more likely to be recognized as hazing.

All hazing behaviors and categories of hazing are potentially mentally, emotionally, and physically harmful. Depending on the situation, hazing behavior can fit within more than one of the categories. Hazing can happen in one instance across a period of time. As illustrated by the arrows, hazing can begin at any point on the Spectrum and the behaviors can continue in one or both directions. 

What does it tell us?

If we can increase recognition of the types of hazing that happen with the highest frequency – those which tend to be minimized as a normal part of some group culture – we can increase opportunities for intervention and prevention of hazing.

All forms of hazing can contribute to unhealthy group environments, and as such, warrant attention and prevention. 

The citation for use of the Spectrum of Hazing in part or in full is as follows:

Allan, E. J. & Kerschner, D. (2020). The Spectrum of Hazing, StopHazing Consulting.