PSYCH253 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Marlboro Man, Marshall Applewhite, Peer Pressure
SchoolUniversity of Waterloo
ProfessorHilary B Bergsieker
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(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
- 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
- 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.
- Cult persuasion can also be analyzed with the following: Who (the communicator) said
What (the message) how (the channel) to whom (the audience)?
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