Printer Friendly

Hazing as crime: an empirical analysis of criminological antecedents.

  I. BGLOs and the Crime of Hazing
 II. Toward a Criminological Model of Hazing
     A. Personality
     B. Impulsivity
     C. Sanction Awareness
III. Survey Data
     A. Methods
        1. Sample
        2. Measures
        3. Procedure
     B. Results


In the past couple of years, major periodicals--e.g., Rolling Stone and The Atlantic--have done in-depth exposes on the dark side of college fraternities and sororities. (1) However, little research has been conducted on this topic in recent years, at least by legal scholars. This is surprising given the persistent hazing incidents on college campuses and the recent hazing deaths of individuals, like Robert Champion at Florida A&M University and George Desdunes at Cornell University--both incidents having resulted in criminal prosecutions of alleged hazers. (2) This article seeks to fill that void by exploring hazing as a criminal legal issue and the extent to which social science helps elucidate why hazing persists and the factors that may militate against it.

The regulation of hazing as a crime has been done by both statute and case law. Anti-hazing legislation in the United States has only gained momentum over the past few decades, (3) despite its documented existence since the 1600s. (4) The first wave of anti-hazing legislation has been linked to the passage of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which shifted responsibility for the well-being of students away from the institutions and universities they attended and onto the students themselves. (5) The most significant wave of legislation came as part of the second wave, which brought the number of states with anti-hazing legislation into the dozens. (6) This second wave followed an increase in student deaths attributable to fraternity-related incidents. (7) Parents whose children had suffered injury or death caused by hazing mobilized anti-hazing campaigns and brought numerous lawsuits against individuals, fraternities, and universities. (8) These campaigns contributed to at least five additional states passing anti-hazing laws. (9) The final wave has seen three additional states pass anti-hazing legislation since the year 2000, mostly from continued parental involvement in lawsuits and anti-hazing campaigns. (10)

All forty-four states that have passed anti-hazing legislation have criminalized hazing, making the act punishable at least as a misdemeanor when a specific mens rea is associated with the act. (11) For example, New Jersey's Anti-Hazing Act, which was passed in 1980 following the death of a pledge at Monmouth College, criminalized hazing where the perpetrator "knowingly or recklessly organizes, promotes, facilitates or engages in any conduct" (12) that causes another person to be placed in danger of bodily injury. (13) Evidencing the increasing criminalization of hazing, some states have made hazing a felony depending on the seriousness of the harm. (14) For example, Utah and Indiana consider hazing to be a felony where there is serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon. (15) Felony charges carry significant punishments. For example, a charge of felony hazing in Utah could result in imprisonment for up to fifteen years. (16) Notably, while these statutes classify hazing as criminal acts, many do not foreclose the possibility of prosecuting the offenders under other applicable criminal statutes. (17)

While some form of criminalization of hazing is widespread amongst the states, not all statutes effectively address the wide variety of circumstances under which hazing appears. Many hazing statutes include education-based language, foreclosing on hazing prosecution in the athletic, work-related, or military contexts. (18) Statutes also vary as to whether they cover humiliation and other mental or emotional injuries, (19) as well as whether consent is a viable defense, (20) as it is in some assault statutes. (21)

The increased criminalization of hazing is also demonstrated by states' efforts to ensure that incidents of hazing are reported and prosecuted. Because hazing is often a part of initiation into a group that the victim seeks to be accepted by, organizational loyalty sometimes deters victims or witnesses from reporting occurrences of hazing. (22) Some states have addressed concerns of organizational loyalty by criminalizing the failure to report hazing incidents. (23) Arkansas, for example, deems it hazing for a person to fail to "report promptly his knowledge or any reasonable information ... of the presence and practice of hazing in the state to an appropriate administrative official of the school, college, university, or other educational institution." (24) Other states, such as North Carolina and Indiana, have attempted to reach a similar result by explicitly protecting those who would testify in hazing trials from being implicated by reason of their testimony. (25)

Anti-hazing statutes with criminal penalties serve two clear purposes: to deter future incidents of hazing, and to facilitate prosecution of persons who participate in acts of hazing. (26) To those effects, the statutes have seen some success, most notably in Florida where eleven Florida A&M University students were charged with felony hazing for the beating and the death of a fellow band member." (27) The statutes have also been interpreted to apply in non-traditional settings. For example, in New York, the family court confirmed that the state's hazing statute applied to an initiation into a high school gang." (28) In affirming the family court's interpretation, a New York state appellate court confirmed that the statute's "any organization" language was intended to have a broad meaning. (29)

In addition, these statutes have seen applications that go beyond criminal prosecution. Multiple states have recognized that violations of criminal hazing statutes, which are designed to protect human life, are prima facie evidence of negligence. (30) In Ohio, a pledge that suffered quadriplegia during a fraternity initiation event used the criminal hazing statute to bring suit against Kent State University, Delta Upsilon Fraternity, and a number of individuals for common law negligence. (31) The fraternity's insurance company was forced to settle with the plaintiff. (32)

Despite some notable successes, criminal hazing statutes have faced a number of challenges in litigation. Many statutes failed to explicitly include or preclude a consent defense, leading to arguments over whether the defense should be available to hazing defendants. (33) This led at least sixteen state legislatures to amend their anti-hazing statutes to include "consent notwithstanding" provisions. (34) Many statutes have faced constitutional challenges. In McKenzie v. State, for example, the appellants argued that the Maryland anti-hazing statute unconstitutionally restricted free speech and expressive conduct on the basis of content. (35) The court of appeals analogized anti-hazing statutes to hate crimes statutes, holding that the state had a justifiable interest in the slight infringement of free speech or expressive conduct. (36) In Illinois, an anti-hazing statute that failed to specify a culpable mental state was upheld under the Illinois Criminal Code's default provision, which allowed any mental state if no particular mental state was specified. (37) (38) Numerous overbreadth and void for vagueness challenges have been brought where hazing statutes have failed to define mental or emotional harm. (38)

Whether due to a statutory deficiency regarding the context or harm of a hazing incident, a state's lack of criminal hazing legislation, or perhaps an effective hazing statute that does not preclude other criminal charges, prosecutors have a number of alternatives under which hazing may be criminalized and prosecuted. States have variously used charges of involuntary manslaughter, (39) assault and battery, (40) criminal sexual assault, (41) and unlawful restraint. (42) While these can be effective means of prosecuting and punishing perpetrators, some hazing activities can fall through the cracks. For example, an Illinois case involving the death of a lacrosse team member resulted only in a guilty charge for providing alcohol to a minor and a sentence of community service. (43)

Despite the trending criminalization of hazing, incidents of hazing remain prevalent. (44) Scholars argue that all fifty states need broad anti-hazing legislation with uniform principles that include criminal consequences. (45) This will allow law enforcement much greater freedom to prevent further harm from hazing activities in a wide variety of contexts and scenarios. (46) In this article, the authors investigate hazing as a crime, and explore the extent to which various criminological correlates explain the extent to which hazing persists within a particular group of collegiate-based fraternities and sororities--black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs). In section I, the authors provide a history of BGLOs and recount a number of BGLO hazing incidents that resulted in criminal sanctions. In section II, the authors discuss three criminological theories--personality, impulsivity, and awareness of sanctions--that may explain BGLO hazing. In section III, the authors empirically test these theories within a national sample of BGLO members. In the conclusion, the authors reconcile the empirical findings with the growing body of empirical scholarship on BGLO hazing.

I. BGLOs and the Crime of Hazing

Black Greek-letter organizations have existed for over 100 years. (47) The founding of the nine major BGLOs largely occurred as a result of shared feelings of discontent with the racial status quo of early 20th Century America. Founded by seven men on the campus of Cornell University in 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was the first black Greek-letter fraternity. (48) The fraternity formed from a Social Study Club that was organized in order for African American students to forge closer connections and networks with each other outside of the classroom. (49) Attending a predominantly white university and not having the opportunity to live on campus, the founders felt excluded from campus life and wanted to form an academic and social group focused on the advancement of all African Americans. (50)

In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first black Greek-letter sorority, was founded on Howard University's campus by nine black college women, led by Ethel Hedgeman, who is considered the "moving spirit" of the sorority. (51) The establishment of Alpha Kappa Alpha coincides with the founding of the Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at the same university. (52) The members of Alpha Kappa Alpha were very involved in many aspects of campus life including academic, social, and public service areas. (53)

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity was founded by black undergraduate men at Indiana University who "looked to form an organization as a way to address the racial inequities and social isolation they faced as students at the predominantly white, mid-western institution." (54) Very similar to the founders of Alpha Phi Alpha, the founders of Kappa Alpha Psi found themselves excluded from many aspects of campus life due to segregationist practices. (55) Edler Watson Diggs and Byron K. Armstrong led the group of ten founders in establishing the foundation for the fraternity. (56) The group knew from an early stage that the organization would spread to other states and would be incorporated. (57) Under its original name, Kappa Alpha Nu, the fraternity was incorporated in May 1911, but was first denied a charter at Indiana University. (58) Kappa Alpha Nu became Kappa Alpha Psi in April 1915. (59)

In 1911, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was the first black Greek-letter fraternity founded on an African American college campus. (60) It was different from Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi in that it was not formed primarily as a way to cope with segregation and racial codes. (61) Reportedly, Edgar A. Love, Oscar Cooper, and Frank Coleman established the fraternity in response to the growing elitism of the Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha on Howard University's campus. (62) The three young men found a great mentor in Professor Ernest E. Just who helped them research and construct the foundation for the organization. (63) The fraternity was incorporated in October 1914 after two years of challenges from college administration. (64)

In January 1913, twenty-two dissatisfied Alpha Kappa Alpha members founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Howard University. (65) The founders of Delta Sigma Theta separated from Alpha Kappa Alpha because they reportedly wanted a more service-oriented organization that focused on pertinent social issues. (66) With hopes of expanding the traditional social Greek organization, these women also wanted to form an organization that would become national in scope and bring together college women from different parts of the country. (67)

A. Langston Taylor arrived at Howard University with the idea to create a new fraternity already in his mind; he did not establish it until 1914 when he helped form Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. (68) Phi Beta Sigma was active in various parts of campus life and had the best equipped fraternity house on campus, which housed both a library and an art gallery that were open to the public. (69) Kappa Alpha Psi offered to merge fraternities with Phi Beta Sigma, but the offer was declined. (70)

Charles Robert Samuel Taylor created the idea of a sister organization for his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, in the form of a sorority. (71) His girlfriend, Arizona Cleaver, followed his advice and formed Zeta Phi Beta at Howard University. (72) While establishing the new sorority was difficult due to the presence of two other sororities on campus, Cleaver found enough members among young women who were not offered an invitation to join Alpha Kappa Alpha or Delta Sigma Theta. (73) The founding ladies of Zeta Phi Beta wanted to form a sorority "that would address more substantive issues germane to society in general, and the black community in particular." (74)

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority is the only black Greek-letter sorority not founded at Howard University and is also the youngest of the four. (75) Mary Lou Allison was a teacher in Indianapolis who was taking classes at Butler University. (76) Originally, the organization began as a sisterhood for teachers in the area but then expanded to allow membership for other young women regardless of their profession. (77) Seven years after its founding, Butler University granted Sigma Gamma Rho a charter in December 1929. (78)

A half a century after the founding of Alpha Phi Alpha, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity was founded on the campus of Morgan State College in 1963. (79) The founders set out to create a new BGLO whose purpose was "the development and perpetuation of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity, and brotherhood among men." (80) The establishment of a new black Greek-letter fraternity reflected the social issues of the Civil Rights Movement that were occurring at the same time. (81) The founders wanted to address social issues and social inequalities in the area and work towards social justice and equal opportunity for all. (82)

Despite this history, information about BGLOs has largely been confined to their own internal texts. (83) Not until the mid-1990s did scholars begin to investigate these organizations. Even then, that work was largely academic and narrowly focused on student affairs issues. (84) It took almost another decade for public works on BGLOs to finally appear. (85) Shortly thereafter, a proliferation of scholarship on BGLOs, in the form of scholarly books and peer-reviewed journal articles, began to be published. (86) While this scholarship has been interdisciplinary in its approach, only within the past couple of years has this work focused on the intersection of BGLOs and the law. (87)

The subject of hazing has been one such juncture where BGLOs and the law meet. Of note, in (2011), Ricky Jones, professor at the University of Louisville (88) and author of the book Black Haze: Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities, (89) served as an expert witness in the hazing case of Ellison v. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (90) Delta Sigma Theta's legal counsel instructed Dr. Jones during his deposition to refer to his report where he noted that BGLOs "have developed a particularly intense brand of physical and psychological abuse when initiating members." (91) Jones went on to underscore what he noted in his report. (92) Jones assumption has been born out in a number of recent empirical studies, (93) and arguably, BGLOs' violent brand of hazing could lead to more criminal sanctions for members.

Dating back to the 1980s, there have been numerous BGLO hazing incidents that have resulted in criminal sanctions. On November 14, 1989, Earl McKenzie and five other Kappa Alpha Psi pledges at Fort Valley State College were beaten with canes and paddles as part of a "pledge line." (94) McKenzie received blows to his chest, kidneys, and back over a period of five hours and was hospitalized as a result, requiring three units of blood due to internal bleeding. (95) The hazing began in earnest on November 6 to punish McKenzie and other pledges for failing to memorize fraternity history and rap songs praising the active members. (96) The pledges had their shirts ripped off, were slammed to the ground, punched, and forced to eat raw eggs. (97) The beatings continued on November 14. (98) When one of the active members said that he was going to "put somebody in the hospital tonight," the pledges fled to McKenzie's parents' house. (99) This decision, however, led to an even worse punishment the following evening when the pledges were locked inside the fraternity house and pummeled with canes, kicks and fists. (100) McKenzie felt dizzy and sick from the abuse, but the active members thought he was faking and continued striking him. (101) As a result, McKenzie and another pledge, Brian Beeler, were hospitalized at Peach County Hospital. (102) McKenzie's kidneys were on the verge of failure and Beeler was treated for a sprained back, bruised buttocks and sore kidneys. (103) Six members of Kappa Alpha Psi were charged with battery. (104)

James Bush, Jr., a twenty-year-old sophomore pledging Omega Psi Phi at Clark Atlanta University, was hospitalized on November 17, 1991 after being hit with a wooden paddle in the buttocks and kidney area during an off campus hazing activity. (105) Three members took Bush and ten other pledges to a high school football field and beat them with paddles. (106) Bush suffered kidney damage, bruised kidneys, and "raw" buttocks as a result of the incident. (107) The pain was so bad that Bush was "trembling and biting into the ground" while he crawled on his stomach under bleachers of the baseball field, receiving blows to his back and legs delivered by hands, fists, rubber tires, and wood. (108) Three fraternity members ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and hazing charges. (109) The members were sentenced to three months community service and ordered to pay Bush's medical expenses, which totaled $5,500. (110)

At an unofficial meeting of pledges on February 8, 1998, leaders of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore told Marquez Polk and Dwayne Motley that they would be beaten as part of their initiation. (111) If the men did not submit to the hazing, they were told that they would not enjoy the benefit of full membership privileges. (112) Over the next two months, Polk and Motley were caned, beaten, spanked, and paddled innumerable times, so savagely that the canes and paddles often broke during the beatings. (113) As a result of this abuse, Polk and Motley were hospitalized with subcutaneous bleeding in the buttocks. (114) They underwent surgery requiring large amounts of tissue extraction and skin grafts to remedy conditions which, if neglected, could potentially have been fatal to the young men. (115) Jon-Mikael McKenzie and Vaughn Green were active members of the fraternity, and both men were charged with second-degree assault, hazing, and reckless endangerment against the victims. (116) McKenzie was convicted at trial on the hazing charges and sentenced to ninety days, a fine, and eighteen months' probation. (117)

In February 1994, the Southeast Missouri State chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi took on five pledges for initiation, one of whom was Michael Davis. (118) Between February 7 and 14, Keith Allen and other fraternity members subjected the pledges to repeated physical abuse." (119) The young men were slapped on their necks and backs, caned on their buttocks and feet, and beaten with heavy books and cookie sheets. (120) The pledges were also kicked, punched, and body slammed by the active members. (121) After two of the five pledges had dropped out, the remaining three were put through a seven-station circle of physical abuse on February 24. (122) At some point during this activity, Michael Davis passed out. (123) His fellow fraternity brothers thought he was playing a joke, so they decided to carry him to his dorm. (124) Once at his dorm, the fraternity brothers stripped Davis of his bloodied clothes and left him on his bed. (125) He would never regain consciousness, dying the following day. (126) The autopsy revealed that Davis had suffered broken ribs, a lacerated kidney, a lacerated liver, and multiple bruises. (127) A pathologist stated that the cause of death was a subdural hematoma of the brain. (128) Keith Allen was charged with five counts of hazing, which is a misdemeanor offense in Missouri. (129) A jury found Allen guilty on all five counts. (130) Besides Keith Allen, fifteen other members of Kappa were also arrested. (131) Eric Keys, (132) Terrence Rogers, Ronald Johnson, Tyrone D. Davis, Karl E. Jefferson, Larry H. Blue, Eric A. Massey, (133) and Isaac Sims III (134) were all arrested, but all either plead out (135) or were released. (136) The other five members, however, did end up serving jail time. Vincent L. King received the longest sentence, five years for involuntary manslaughter. (137) Michael Q. Williams reached a deal with prosecutors and agreed to five years probation and ninety days. (138) Mikel Giles, Cedric Murphy, Carlos Turner all received thirty days in jails and five years probation for their involvement. (139)

Sherdene Brown was a twenty-six year old black woman who was a graduate student at Kent State. (140) Brown had agreed to assist in pledging a new line of candidates for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 1991. (141) Brown inflicted or assisted in the abuse of these pledges, the bulk of which took place during the final stage of initiation known as "the Goddess stage." (142) The pledges were slapped on the face and hands, punched, pushed, and paddled (known as "taking wood"). (143) The paddling involved anywhere from a dozen to more than a hundred blows from "the enforcer," a special paddle wrapped in silver duct tape. (144) Past and present pledges testified to the severity of the abuse by Brown. (145) Girls suffered black eyes, nosebleeds after coerced headstands, and passed out after being struck on the temple. (146) Some pledges suffered bruised and bleeding buttocks from the paddling, and two of the girls received permanent scars which cannot be surgically repaired. (147) Brown testified that she did not want to hurt anyone. (148) Rather, she claimed that she was told this process was the only way a black woman could gain respect in her community. (149) Brown was convicted at trial on one count of complicity to hazing and one count of complicity to assault, both misdemeanors. (150)

Over a period of four weeks in 1993, Joseph Snell was beaten by members of the University of Maryland chapter of Omega Psi Phi with a hammer, horsehair whip, broken chair leg, and brush. (151) The beatings sometimes took place in a fraternity member's apartment and other times behind a school at night. (152) Pledges were made to eat vomit and received concussions and broken ribs, and six pledges suffered serious injuries ranging from a ruptured spleen to a fractured ankle. (153) In addition to the beatings, the members once put a space heater next to Snell's face to darken his skin because he was "not 'black' enough." (154) As a result of the abuse, Snell called a suicide hotline and was hospitalized. (155) Snell alleged he was assaulted and battered by the fraternity's members and they intentionally and/or negligently inflicted emotional distress. (156) The defendants argued the abuse did not occur, but if it did they did not authorize the beatings, and that Snell consented to the abuse by continuing to return to the fraternity house. (157) In July 1997, a jury awarded Snell a $375,000 verdict against Omega Psi Phi, with $300,000 of the award in the form of punitive damages and $75,000 for physical and emotional injuries. (158) Twenty three members of the fraternity were charged with beating new members, but they avoided trial by agreeing to apologize to Snell, pay his medical bills, and some members performed anywhere from 100 to 150 hours of community service. (159)

In 1996, three Phi Beta Sigma members at the University of Georgia pleaded guilty to hazing and battery charges in the paddling of football player Roderick Perrymond. (160) Perrymond was hospitalized after receiving at least seventy blows." (161) The Sigmas had a chapter advisor in place to urge moderation. (162) That very advisor, however, was a participant in the illegal hazing lineup. (163) Perrymond filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages for pain and suffering, mental and emotional anxiety and distress, punitive damages, and payment of his medical bills. (164) Perrymond claimed that the fraternity adviser "verbally threatened to kill [him] before the paddling began," and he was also told he would be hit in the head with bricks and the paddle if he resisted. (165) In criminal proceedings, three members of the fraternity pleaded guilty to charges of battery and hazing and were sentenced to twenty four months' probation, $1,200 fines, and 150 hours of community service. (166)

Braylan Curry suffered serious injury as a result of hazing activities during his initiation into the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Southern Methodist University in 2003. (167) The defendants, who were older members of the fraternity, forced Curry to drink large quantities of water under threat of physical violence at a Dallas apartment between 1 AM and 5 AM on November 15, 2003. (168) Curry lost consciousness, yet continued to be forced to drink more water while he was being punched in the stomach by the fraternity members. (169) As a result, Curry suffered hyponotrima Hypoxia and convulsions, slipped into a coma, (170) and was taken to the intensive care unit of a Dallas hospital. (171) The court held on appeal that the defendants could be prosecuted under felony aggravated assault instead of misdemeanor hazing charges for knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing serious bodily injury. (172)

Five members of Phi Beta Sigma at SIU-Edwardsville face felony hazing charges for paddling Prentice Motley. (173) Motley was beaten with a wooden paddle throughout March and April. (174) After one session in a wooded area off campus, Motley was taken to the hospital with internal bleeding. (175) Motley, who entered the hospital complaining of fever and severe pain, stayed four days in the hospital. (176) Initial reports that his kidney was ruptured proved to be false. (177) He filed a civil suit against the fraternity for $50,000, "citing severe and permanent injuries from the paddling." (178) Three fraternity members received a year of probation for the incident, and a fourth member was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. (179) The civil suit against Phi Beta Sigma was ultimately settled out of court. (180)

Terry Hall, twenty, was pledging Phi Beta Sigma at the University of South Carolina in 2006. (181) On October 9, 2006, Hall was subjected to a hazing ritual where he was hit more than one hundred times with fists and hands. (182) Hall was choked with a tee shirt, blindfolded, and struck multiple times with a wooden paddle, baseball bat, and belt. (183) As he was being beaten, Hall lost control of his bowels and nearly lost consciousness. (184) He later went to the hospital for treatment because of the resulting injuries. (185) Hall sustained bruises to his upper arms, chest, feet, back and buttocks during the incident and was punched an estimated sixty times that evening. (186) The beating continued until Hall was gasping for air through his bleeding nose. (187) The university subsequently suspended Phi Beta Sigma and seven members were arrested and charged with hazing, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a $500 fine. (188)

Every night for nearly a month during the summer of 2003, Phi Beta Sigma members at St. John's University took pledge Brian Chambers to Kissena Park. (189) The members would pound Chambers with a two pound paddle in the chest, back, and buttocks so severely that Chambers felt like his back was being tightened "in a vise" after the beatings. (190) On one occasion, Chambers "was smacked 100 times with a foot long wooden paddle" (191) so hard that he had to take a step backward to avoid toppling over after each blow. (192) When he wasn't being struck with the paddle, he was subjected to "thunder and lightning"--open hand slaps to the chest and stomach. (193) Chambers was eventually hospitalized for fourteen days, suffering bruises, acute renal failure, seizures, and temporary blindness in both eyes. (194) He had woken up that night and noticed he was urinating blood, and Chambers had "Crayola box purple" bruises from his lower back to his upper thighs upon checking into Brooklyn's Victory Memorial Hospital. (195) Three members of Phi Beta Sigma were charged were with second-degree assault. (196) All three men were acquitted by a court in Queens after two days of deliberation following a five week trial. (197)

Cedrick Smith, a twenty year old sophomore at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, was beaten in an off-campus hazing incident by Phi Beta Sigma members on April 30, 2000. (198) Smith suffered broken ribs, internal bleeding, and lost consciousness for about thirty minutes. (199) He received dialysis treatments in the hospital's intensive care unit, necessitated by a blood vessel burst caused by the paddling. (200) Smith and another pledge had been taken off campus to the Monticello Social Club, where they were paddled in an initiation rite called "crossing over." (201) After the paddling, Smith was taken to a member's home where he kept going in and out of consciousness before emergency workers were called. (202) Six UAM students pleaded guilty to third degree battery charges from Smith's hazing, and they were ordered to pay forty thousand dollars in medical bills. (203)

Brent Whiteside filed a suit against Eastern Kentucky University after suffering kidney failure from hazing rituals in the school's Kappa Alpha Psi chapter. (204) Whiteside alleged that members beat him on multiple occasions between January 29, 2008, and March 7, 2008. (205) Whiteside was hospitalized from the assaults and still suffers migraine headaches and other injuries as a result. (206) Three members had struck Whiteside with their fists, a paddle, and a cane causing kidney failure. (207) Whiteside said his tormentor even had a "personal cane" he used on Whiteside so aggressively that it snapped during a February 23, 2008 beating. (208) Three members of the fraternity pleaded guilty to fourth degree assault charges from the incidents in January 2009, and they were sentenced thirty days home incarceration. (209)


Criminology is the scientific study of the correlates and causes of criminal behavior, and the societal response to such behavior. (210) Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in that it draws from the fields of biology, psychology, and sociology. (211) Consistent with this interdisciplinary focus, a variety of theories have been proffered to explain why individuals engage in behavior that is in violation of the criminal law. (212) Those rationales include endogenous characteristics such as personality, impulsivity, as well as awareness of and beliefs about sanctions. (213)

A. Personality

Personality refers to the manner in which individuals think, feel, and behave. (214) Personality has a biological basis, and is influenced by one's social environment as well. (215) It is relatively stable across the life course, meaning that individuals tend to maintain their rank order over time. (216) That is, individuals who are higher (or lower) on a given trait relative to others of the same age tend to remain higher (or lower) throughout the life course. As Miller and Lynam have argued, the study of how personality is related to criminal behavior is important because it can provide insights into why some individuals engage in a large amount of criminal behavior, others a moderate amount, while still others rarely commit criminal acts. (217) Moreover, personality also helps explain other known facts dealing with criminal behavior, such as the stability of criminal (and related antisocial) behavior over the life course and the versatility of criminal behaviors committed by offenders. (218) In addition, the effect of personality on criminal behavior is robust: this relationship has been found to exist across methods (self-reports and other reports of personality; official versus self-reports of offending), countries, sex, and race. (219)

Han Eysenck published findings in 1977 supporting the idea that there were three biological dimensions of human personality that explained individual differences in human behavior. (220) He proposed that the interaction of the traits he defined as (1) psychoticism (the tendency to be self-centered, impulsive, and emotionally cold), (2) extraversion (being outgoing, gregarious, and social), and (3) neuroticism (the extent to which one is emotionally unstable) (PEN) contributed to the formation of antisocial behavior. (221) Antisocial behavior, as discussed in this context, refers to violations of law. Eysenck's studies, backed by those of his successors, suggested that people with antisocial behavior were more likely to commit future crimes than those who did not possess antisocial behavior. (222) Eysenck's research suggested that high levels of all three traits were indicative of criminal behavior and tendencies. (223) Psychoticism, however, tended to be the most significant predictor while extraversion was the least significant. (224) Other models followed Eysenck's three trait model of personality by expanding it to include five broad dimensions, often referred to as the Big Five: (1) conscientiousness (being reliable, organized, and deliberative), (2) agreeableness (friendly, trusting, straightforward), (3) neuroticism (emotional stability), (4) openness to experience (willing to try new things, openness to different values and ideas), and (5) extraversion (sociable, outgoing). (225) 226 It is interesting to note that Mills and colleagues found that the presence of antisocial behavior was highly suggestive of criminal behavior and tendencies, but the absence of antisocial behavior was not necessarily suggestive of the absence of criminal behavior and tendencies. (226) This has led to future studies that seek to examine the impact that environment and social factors have on trait interaction. (227)

Boduszek and colleagues used the trait approach of the Big Five to determine what percentage of individual variance in criminal behavior and thinking was explained by the Big Five. (228) Boduszek first provided previous results on Eysenck's PEN Model. The researchers cited previous studies that found that those exhibiting criminal behavior tended to score high on psychoticism, as the trait was strongly related to being "cold, hostile, aggressive, and insensitive to the needs of others." (229) Secondly, they provided that extraversion was often in question as to its effectiveness in predicting criminal behavior. (230) This paralleled Eysenck's previous finding that extraversion was the least significant predictor of criminal behavior. (231) Lastly, Boduszek noted that neuroticism was a weaker predictor of criminal behavior but a stronger prediction of recidivism. (232)

Several conflicting theories regarding extraversion have been produced, perhaps explaining the variances in results about the strength of extraversion as a predictor of criminal behavior. Eysenck proposed that the confinement of incarcerated persons, who were generally used for criminal behavior studies, led to skewed results on the extraversion portion of the test. (233) This has subsequently been referred to as the "prisonization" of criminal identity, where criminals who live together interact more and increase their levels of extraversion as a result. (234) In contrast, Boduszek and colleagues noted the limitations of relying on self-reported trait levels; the interactions between criminals incarcerated together may not be reflective of their interactions in the outside world. (235)

In Boduszek and colleagues' work, they administered two self-report questionnaires to violent-recidivist and nonviolent-recidivist males between the ages of twenty and sixty-six. (236) The Measure of Criminal Attitudes and Associates (MCAA) measured criminal thinking style and association with criminal friends; the other questionnaire, the Measure of Criminal Social Identity, measured criminals' self-reported levels of criminal social identity. (237) Using a post-matching multiple regression analysis, the researchers found that five factors significantly explained 49% of the variance in individuals with criminal thinking style and criminal behavior. (238) These five factors were (1) psychoticism, (2) extraversion, (3) neuroticism, (4) criminal social identity, and (5) association with criminal friends. (239) Of these five factors, psychoticism was the strongest predictor of criminal thinking style and behavior, consistent with the results from Eysenck's PEN model and other studies of the Big Five Personality traits. (240)

Boduszek and colleagues also found association with criminal friends and criminal social identity to be significant predictors of criminal thinking and behavior. (241) Association with criminal friends can be linked to extraversion, paralleling Eysenck's findings that high levels of extraversion are indicative of criminal behavior. (242) Consistent with prior findings on the weakness of the relationship between extraversion and criminal behavior, association with criminal friends was also found to be a weak predictor of criminal behavior. (243)

Wallinius found that high rates of psychopathy, a personality disorder characterized by antisocial behavior and a lack of remorse and empathy, was related to criminal behavior. (244) Wallinius also found that besides being predictive of criminal behavior, antisocial behavior was also predictive of recidivism. (245) This provides further support for the link between antisocial behavior and criminal behavior, but goes further than prior studies in suggesting that those who possess antisocial personality traits are more likely to be repeat criminal offenders than those who do not.

While the majority of research on the relationship between personality and criminal behavior has been retrospective, some prospective studies have found support for the relationship. In one study, researchers administered two tests longitudinally to around 2,000 boys in an attempt to examine the development and progression of antisocial behavior and to see if it led to criminal behavior. (246) Two tests, one measuring cognitive ability and the other the Five-Factor Inventory to measure the levels of the Big Five, were administered to sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade boys biannually for six years. (247) At the end of the six years, univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to see whether cognitive ability, determined by grade point average, and any personality traits significantly contributed to the development of antisocial and criminal behavior. (248)

Researchers separated misdemeanors, defined here as breaches of public order and minor traffic offenses, and criminal offenses that involved a serious fine or imprisonment, in attempts to examine the effect of personality on criminal behavior. (249) Using univariate analysis, researchers found that criminal offenses were positively and significantly related to neuroticism and were negatively rated to agreeableness, conscientiousness, and cognitive ability. (250) When GPA was added, cognitive ability and conscientiousness lost their significant values. (251) Researchers also found that antisocial behavior itself was not significantly indicative of criminal behavior. (252) To explain GPA's lack of a significant effect on criminal behavior, researchers theorized that GPA may be a separate result of personality; it may be affected by personality but not lead to criminal behavior. (253) This theory is supported by other research analyzing the effects of comorbid symptoms and different effects of personality on behavior other than criminal behavior. (254) The researchers noted that their findings paralleled that of other studies in that low agreeableness and conscientiousness combined with high neuroticism was indicative of criminal behavior. (255) This parallels Eysenck's PEN theory, as conscientiousness and agreeableness are often combined into the one trait of psychoticism when the PEN theory is used. (256) Therefore, the researchers prospectively found that high neuroticism and high psychoticism are predicative of future criminal behavior.

Recent studies have added nuance to our understanding of personality's factor structure. (257) For example, a 2011 study investigated inmates to compare the Five-Factor Model of Personality to Eysenck's original PEN model to determine whether one test was a stronger predictor of criminal behavior than the other. (258) Researchers cited Eysenck for his groundbreaking theory on antisocial behavior and the genetic and biological factors that predisposed one to criminal behavior. (259) Researchers stressed the importance of genetics, and not social and environmental factors, in the development of criminal behavior. (260)

Researchers used two groups of prisoners; one was administered the International Personality Item Pool Big Five-Factor Markers, and one was administered Eysenck's original PEN test. (261) Results were compared using a multiple regression analysis. (262) Very inconsistent results were found amongst the two samples and compared to previous studies. (263)

The lack of significant results lead researchers to change their model to a 7-Factor Model to try to explain the results found in the samples and to create a test that was a stronger indicator of criminal behavior than either of the two primarily used tests. (264) Using the data collected from sample group one, researchers tried to explain the results using seven factors: (1) understanding/empathy, (2) emotional stability, (3) extraversion, (4) general agreeableness, (5) intellect/openness, (6) organization/positive behavior, and (7) organization/calmness. (265)

Using the seven-factor test that researches developed from the results in sample group one, researchers then used the test to examine the relationship between personality traits and criminal behavior in sample group two. (266) This seven-factor test, however, turned out to be a poor fit, with several of the factors often overlapping with each other in the questions they applied to and the behaviors they described. (267) Researchers then tried to improve fit by using regression weights and found that five main (core) traits explained the majority of the variance in individual levels of criminal behavior with significantly less overlap. (266) These five traits closely mirrored the Big Five and were defined as (1) extraversion, (2) neuroticism, (3) openness to new experience, (4) agreeableness (defined as empathy/understanding), and (5) calmness. (269) Researchers then tested this "new" test on sample one and found an acceptable fit between the test administered and the variance between individual behaviors. (270)
COPYRIGHT 2015 The Law & Psychology Review
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Introduction into II. Toward a Criminological Model of Hazing A. Personality, p. 1-25
Author:Parks, Gregory S.; Jones, Shayne E.; Hughey, Matthew W.
Publication:Law and Psychology Review
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Veterans treatment courts: analysis and recommendations.
Next Article:Hazing as crime: an empirical analysis of criminological antecedents.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |