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Initiation ceremonies in sporting and non sporting societies

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Lafferty
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Initiation ceremonies have often been described as ‘rites de passage’ for new players joining sporting groups or teams and these ceremonies or acts are often justified by the notion that they build team cohesion, increase social bonding and thereby develop team spirit (Campo et al., 2005). However, many of the activities included in initiations have long been criticised by Sports Governing Bodies, National Organisations, Universities and importantly sport players themselves who have suffered emotionally and physically, both short and long term, as a result of participation (Nuwer, 2004). The tragic consequences of initiation ceremonies ‘getting out of hand’ are well documented but despite legislation, no-tolerance policies and club mandates there is still evidence that they take place. Newcomers to sports clubs and non-sporting societies are forced to engage in activities designed to humiliate conducted by perpetrators who could be described as bullies.

To-date, research has explored the relationship between cohesion and initiation activities (Van Raalte et al., 2007; Lafferty & Wakefield, 2010). But further research is needed to explore the negative emotional and physiological consequences of initiation activities on the individual and the impact of participation on intragroup member relationships. Developing a more detailed evidence base as to the role and impact of initiation activities will help inform the development of interventions that will be more effective than the rule based measures advocated at present.

The key aims of the proposed programme of work using a mixed methodological approach are to explore the negative emotional and physiological consequences of participation in initiation activities, the impact of such activities on the social group hierarchy within sport teams and non-sporting societies and use the gathered data to produce and pilot an educational intervention designed to reduce initiation activities and practices.

Studying at Chester

As a postgraduate research student at the University of Chester, you will benefit from being part of one of the fastest-growing Graduate Schools in the UK. The University has almost 500 students studying towards a research degree, each of whom benefit from our excellent library and learning resources, including a dedicated postgraduate study space and regular programme of skills development workshops. Your work will be supervised by a team of experts in your specialist area of study, in addition to our faculty postgraduate tutor. The primary supervisor for this project is Dr Moira Lafferty ([Email Address Removed]); prospective applicants are very welcome to contact Dr Lafferty in advance of making an application to discuss this project in more depth.

Based within the Department of Psychology, you will also have access to our suite of research laboratories and a host of specialist equipment for your data collection, supported by a small team of psychology technicians. Our department supports an enthusiastic and active research community of which you will be part. This includes our monthly research seminar series, public lectures, and regular meetings of our research groups and journal clubs. For this particular project, you will join our Contextual Behavioural Science Laboratory, one of three work streams within the Chester Research Unit for the Psychology of Health (CRUPH).

You will be allocated a generous development fund to support your data collection and conference attendance. We are not able to provide any other financial support for your studies. This advertisement is for self-funded study only and you will be required at the point of application stage to detail how you will pay your fees (see You are encouraged to have a sensible plan in place for payment of your living expenses whilst you undertake this work.

General enquiries about PhD study in our department can be made by contacting Dr Sam Roberts ([Email Address Removed]).

How to apply

Applications should be made via our online application system ( please make it clear in your application which specific project you are applying for. The deadline for applications is Friday 26th February 2016, and we anticipate that interviews will take place in March.

Funding Notes

This advertisement is for a self-funded phd applicant only.

How good is research at University of Chester in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 13.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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