Understanding cult membership: beyond “Drinking the Kool-Aid”
AuthorGreiser, Melissa M.
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AbstractWhile there is a plethora of research discussing the concepts of social psychology that are involved in cult membership, which explain that the people involved with cults are typical individuals and there are many basic factors that contribute to their involvement, public perception of cults and their members still seems to be deeply negative. It is possible that if these studies were more widely acknowledged, public perception of cult members would become less negative. Examining the psychology behind cult membership can shed light on the many factors that influence human behavior, which may make it easier for the public to understand how cults can be appealing. Fundamental concepts of social psychology, including affiliation motivation and the need to belong, persuasion and the factors that are responsible for making it more effective, cognitive dissonance, ingroup bias, and social identity theory, can be used to explain how people become involved in cults and why they choose to remain in the group.
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