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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - pg 181 onwards.docx

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Hilary B Bergsieker

Psych. 253 Social Psych. Chapter 5 (From pg. 181) Extreme Persuasion: How do Cults Indoctrinate? - Hindsight analysis  using persuasion principles as categories for explaining troubling social phenomenon after the fact - Explaining why people believe something says nothing in regards to the truth of their beliefs - Cults  a group typically characterized by the distinctive ritual of its devotion to a god or a person, isolation from the surrounding “evil” culture, and a charismatic leader. (A sect, by contrast, is a spinoff from a major religion.) Also called a new religious movement. - 1978, Guyana  914 followers of the Reverend Jim Jones died by following his order to consume a strawberry drink laced with tranquilizers, painkillers and a lethal dose of cyanide - 1993, a high-school dropout David Koresh seized control of a sect called the Branch Davidians and convinced members to hand over all their property, including their wives and daughters to him and convinced 19 of his wives to bear his children. When under siege after a shootout that killed 6 members and 4 federal agents, Koresh told the rest of the members that they would all die and go to heaven with him and led to 86 people being consumed by fire - Marshall Applewhite, fired from two music teaching jobs for having affairs with students, convinced his followers to renounce families, sex, drugs, and personal money with promises of spaceship voyage to salvation Attitudes Follow Behavior - People internalize commitments made voluntarily, publicly, and repeatedly and cult leaders use this. Compliance Breeds Acceptance - New converts are quickly turned into active members through behavioral rituals, public recruitment and fund-raising and turn converts into committee advocates  the greater the personal commitment, the more the need to justify it. The Foot – in – the – Door Phenomenon - Starts with something simple like inviting people for a dinner and discussion on philosophies of life, then slowly with weekend retreats that turn into longer training retreats and eventually the activities become more difficult and recruits start contributing and slowly become converts - Jim Jones in the beginning made people hand over 10% of their income, and then slowly raised it to 25% and so forth to the point where they ended up giving him everything o Former cult member Grace Stoen recalls that nothing was ever done drastically, and you gave up everything slowly and would reach a point where you do realize that you gave up a lot, but are willing to give up more because you figure you’ve made it far and it won’t make a difference now. Persuasive Elements - Cult persuasion can also be analyzed with the following: Who (the communicator) said What (the message) how (the channel) to whom (the audience)? The Communicator - A charismatic leader who is perceived to be trustworthy and an expert - Jim Jones did this through “psychic readings” newcomers had to identify themselves before coming to services at the church and then an aid of Jones would call their home and do a survey  Jones would use the survey info when talking to the newcomers and makes it seem as though he’s psychic and knows a lot about them - Trust is another credibility  middle – class Caucasian youths are more vulnerable because they are more trusting than lower – class youths (who know how to resist a hustle) and upper – class youths (who have been warned of kidnappers since childhood). Many cult members are recruited by people they trust like relatives or friends The Message - Emotional messages that show acceptance and are extremely appealing, the message echoes through channels as various as lectures, small – group discussions, and direct social pressure. The Audience - Recruits are usually young people below the age of 25, some are less educated people but most are educated, middle – class people - Potential recruits are at a turning point in their lives, facing a personal crisis or vacationing or living away from home, they have needs and the cults offer them with an answer  times of social and economic upheaval are especially conductive - Suicide bombings are usually carried out by young men that are transitioning between adolescence and maturity and they come under the influence of authoritative, religiously oriented communicators that lead them to believe that suicide bombing will lead them to bliss  also do things like writing goodbye letters or a farewell video that makes them let go of their will to survive Group Effects - Cults separate members from their previous lives and other support systems they had, isolating them and making them completely a part of the cult, this leads to the members engaging only with other group members and therefore no one there to counter-argue. Cult frowns on or punishes disagreement, no one says anything against it and lingering doubts slowly disappear. Stress and emotional arousal also makes people more susceptible to cults - The above discussed things don’t have unlimited power, people in cults do sometimes leave when things or their leaders are getting too violent or demanding - Some of these techniques are also used by Buddhist and Catholic monasteries - The same is true for members of sorority and fraternity groups - Persuasion is also used in counseling and psychotherapy in similar ways that a cult uses it by providing: o A supportive, confiding social relationship o An offer of expertise and hope o A special rationale that explains one’s difficulties and offers a new perspective o And a set of rituals and learning experiences that promise a new sense of peace and happiness - We are not immune to social control techniques and are used on us by our own groups, like political leaders, educators and other persuaders - There is but a blurry line between education and indoctrination, enlightenment and propaganda, conversion and coercion, therapy and mind control. - Persuasion is not inherently good or bad; it all depends on how we use it. It could be used to do great things like promote health or advance peace and it could be used for horrible things like selling addictive drugs or to stir up hatred How Can Persuasion Be Res
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