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Have you ever been in a group situation where you’re not cool with what’s unfolding – but everyone else seems OK with it? Quite possibly you fell prey to a common misperception that Amherst College psychology professor Catherine A. Sanderson points to as a key factor in hazing and other bad behavior on campus.

“People privately feel uncomfortable with what they see happening, yet believe their peers don’t share their concerns,” Sanderson writes. Then they stay silent, against their own instincts, because they fear rejection by the group.

Northwestern University is the latest school to be mired in a hazing scandal, but the majority of college student-athletes in the U.S. say they’ve experienced it. Sanderson describes ways to short-circuit the human tendency toward this misperception, with potentially big implications for hazing, alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct.

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Maggie Villiger

Senior Science + Technology Editor

Students often have the wrong idea about what their peers think is acceptable. Anastasiia Korotkova/iStock via Getty Images

To get rid of hazing, clarify what people really think is acceptable behavior and redefine what it means to be loyal

Catherine A. Sanderson, Amherst College

People often privately feel uncomfortable about bad behavior they see around them but mistakenly believe their peers don’t share their concerns.

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