[ ♪OUTRO ]
When you hear the word cult,
you might think of a dark chamber with a bunch of robed people
chanting because of weird, sinister beliefs.
Or tragedies like the over 900 people who committed mass suicide
in 1978 because they were instructed to by Reverend Jim Jones.
It’s easy to wonder who would
ever join a cult, and assume there
’ s something wrong with those people.
But cults come in many forms,
and are more common than you might think.
And most of the time,
the people who join are just like you and me.
Defining cults is tricky, even for researchers.
They pretty much agree that cults involve extreme devotion to some idea, thing,
But some researchers emphasize a religious element, calling them a New Religious Movement.
Others focus on manipulative persuasion tactics.
And some highlight destructive groups that
seek to control and isolate people,
as opposed to groups that might share some cult-like qualities
but aren’t harmful or could even be beneficial.
The reality is, it’s sometimes hard to give a clear-cut answer
as to whether a group is a cult.
But psychologists are still trying to figure out who joins cults and why.
Most studies involve recruiting former cult members
from all over the world to ask them what their experiences were like.
It’s hard to interview current cult members or people before they join. So,
while researchers have learned many things from
these people who left, there’s still
a lot we don’t know.
But what we do know is a bit surprising.
For instance, in one study from 2007
at the Autonomous University of Madrid, researchers
interviewed 101 former cult members and found that they’re just normal people.
Some said that they joined cults because they were dissatisfied
with their life, or were
looking for self-development or spiritual growth, which are totally normal psychological phenomena.
Everyone usually wants to belong to a group of people
that cares about them,
and might look for answers to big picture questions,
通过工作来提升自己 或去寻求精神上的启迪 有时候
work to improve themselves, or seek spiritual enlightenment. Sometimes,
people just find those things incults. And,
even though all this research is far
from conclusive, there might be factors that put
us more at risk of joining one.
Who you’re around could matter.
For instance, if your family or friends are already part of a cult,
your chance of joining is greater.
Same with having a dysfunctional family that ’
s not very supportive or even abusive.
But family can also be a source of protection if you do join.
Having a supportive family that isn’t
judgmental and critical can help you leave.
Some personal qualities might also matter,
like being more spiritual or religious,
or being curious about other people’s views.
People who are having a difficult time in their life,
dealing with stress, or having
problems managing emotions or daily life pressures, are also at a greater risk.
All this makes it sound like everyone is at risk,
which… we kind of are.
But also in that 2007 study,
the former cult members rated manipulation as the most important factor in joining.
People usually thought they were joining a normal,
healthy community, because of various persuasion techniques and lies.
This manipulation is often a long, gradual process,
taking months or years to change your attitudes
so that you’ll commit.
The leaders are typically very charismaticand confident.
They do things to make you like them and their group,
which is called ingratiation.
Sometimes they’ll give small gifts or dofavors.
Thanks to reciprocity, it makes us want togive something back. Then,
to get you to stick around,
they use techniques like fear, humiliation, or
shutting down any dissent or questions.
此外 他们还会孤立你 限制你的独立性
And they often isolate you, restricting your independence,
like if and where you work, and
whom you’re allowed to talk to.
When everyone around you seems to believe in the group’s mission,
and any voices that
say otherwise are quickly shut down,
it’s hard to question what’s going on.
And if your old life is gone and you have
no job, friends, or family to return to,
it’s a lot harder to leave.
But it is possible.
Once out, people often deal with many mental health problems
because of the trauma and
abuse they might have experienced, developing things like PTSD and other issues.
The good news is
that research is being done to understand how to better help people leave cults,
return to regular society, and livea healthy life.
A lot of therapeutic techniques are involved,
from focusing on basic mental health to unpacking
why they joined a cult
in the first place and unlearning any harmful beliefs the cult gave them.
And the other good news is
that psychologists do know a thing or two about how to resist persuasion.
For instance, there’s forewarning:
If you know that someone’s going to try to convince
you to do something or buy something,
you tend to evaluate them and their message more negatively,
so you’re less persuaded. But,
according to a 2009 study by a researcher
at Opole University in Poland, this doesn’t
work equally well on all kinds of messages.
Forewarning helps us resist persuasion more if the cult is focusing
on your personal life.
Because when we think about ourselves and our personal values,
we’re more protective.
But if the persuasion is focused
on bigger philosophical things, like why the answer
to life, the universe, and everything could be 42,
the warning doesn’t have as much impact.
So it’s normal to want to belong,
figure out who you are, and hang out with cool people.
但并不是每个组织团体都会为你着想 所以 还是小心为好
But not every group has your best interests in mind… so just be careful.
再者 真正好的 为你着想团体也有很多很多
And there are plenty of awesome communitiesout there, too.
Thanks for watching this episode of SciShowPsych.
If you want to know more
about different ways group identity can get destructive,
you can watch our video about why people riot.
And if you want to keep learning about humans with us twice a week,
you can go to youtube.com/scishowpsych and subscribe.
[ ♪ OUTRO ]