Simone Becchetti

The Psychology Behind Why Girls Are So Willing To Join Sororities

The stereotypical sorority girl gets a bad rep. She’s stupid. She drinks a lot -- and often for male attention. She wears ponytails with bows in them and says things like, “hoes over bros” in complete seriousness.

So why then are so many women so keen on joining a sorority their freshman year?

According to 2012 North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) statistics, about 14 percent of incoming college freshman intended to join a sorority.

That’s a lot of young girls wanting to be part of such a controversial group. There must be something else motivating these ladies to participate.

Perhaps not all press is bad press. There are websites centered on positively promoting sorority life. There are movies and TV shows depicting the bonds of sisterhood. And there is, of course, the word-of-mouth tradition that helps perpetuate the cycle.

With so many people offering their opinions -- both good and bad -- on sorority affiliation, we decided it was time to get to the bottom of this. Here’s why women really want to join sororities.

1. Networking opportunities

It’s kind of like Jewish geography, but for sorority members instead. “Oh em gee! You know Carrie Mulligan from the Beta chapter!? I just looooove her. And boom, you’ve landed yourself a job at Teen Vogue.

Sara Fischer, president of the G.W. Panhellenic Association, said to the NYTimes, “being in a sorority is the best way to network.” She attributes finding her apartment, job and internships to her Greek connections. So maybe think twice before you screw a sorority sister’s ex-boyfriend.

2. Community service

Most associations require some sort of community service aspect, and oftentimes a sorority is connected to a specific cause.

An easy way to participate in social activism on campus while making new friends is by joining a sorority whose cause resonates with you.

3. You’re outgoing

According to Alan Reifman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University in Psychology Today, “there may be something about people who join Greek-letter organizations -- extraversion, risk-taking, excitement-seeking, and so forth -- that sets them apart from non-joiners.”

So if you’re an extrovert who doesn’t mind 40 other women knowing your business, then yes, you are the perfect fit.

4. On-campus involvement

We know it’s crazy, but some people actually take a break from partying to become more involved in on-campus activities and yes, your sorority’s date party counts as one of them.

In addition, “students who ‘get involved’ experience institutional attachment and supportive peer groups” and higher GPAs, according to a 2014 Wiley study.

That doesn’t mean joining a sorority will boost your GPA, but if you’re surrounded by a rigorous environment that emphasizes academic success, you will be more inclined to succeed. This is also why many colleges approve of sororities -- they motivate their pledges to receive high marks in their courses.

5. Sense of confidence

Fitting in and discovering this sense of belonging boosts your self-confidence. Although in her 2004 book "Pledged" author Alexandra Robbins had “deeply mixed feelings” about sororities, she did note that many women reported emerging from her experience with a newfound higher self-esteem.

This improvement in self-confidence is an attractive benefit, especially for nervous or insecure incoming freshmen.

6. Reaffirms gender identity

This is a fancy way of saying that joining a sorority can be really fun if you’re a girly girl and want to embrace your inner girliness.

Despite all this academia talk, sorority women do, in fact, engage in gender specific behaviors like sharing clothes and straightening each other’s hair while watching “Girls” on HBO and eating Skinny Cow ice cream.

And if that sounds like a ton of female fun quality-time to you, then congratulations, you are ripe to join a sorority and reaffirm that strong gender identity of yours.

7. Tradition

Especially if you have close relatives who were part of a sorority, you have a stronger desire to be part of your family’s longstanding history.

Even just hearing funny stories about when your sister or mother were members can also positively influence you to become one too. Tradition = brainwashing good times.

8. Making friends

Most obviously, joining a sorority helps you find friends, which is especially important as a new girl on campus.

As evidenced by “Mean Girls,” we also have a mild obsession with being part of a group and nothing says “you fit in here” like being accepted into a sorority.

During a stressful time, it’s like a foolproof way to find a set of girls to be friends with, if only because they pledged they would be your sisters for life.

9. Self-symbolization

Stay with us on this one. According to a 1997 study published in Sociological Inquiry, “Self-symbolization is an idealized condition that occurs when a person's status is legitimized by others who accept these symbols as valid status markers.

People who feel status anxiety may engage in self-symbolization, resulting in the adoption of symbols used to bolster identity.”

In other words, as a nervous and lost freshman girl, a sorority house represents social stability and a sense of identity. And the thousands of women who partake in rush reaffirm this placement in a sorority as a coveted status.

The sorority house is seen as a position of status to those who treat it as such and thus, young women want to be part of such a socially-constructed elite group.

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