Influences Of Groups

  • The aspirational reference group refers to those others against whom one would like to compare oneself. For example, many firms use athletes as spokespeople, and these represent what many people would ideally like to be.
  • Associative reference groups include people who more realistically represent the individuals’ current equals or near-equals—e.g., coworkers, neighbors, or members of churches, clubs, and organizations. Paco Underhill, a former anthropologist turned retail consultant and author of the book Why We Buy has performed research suggesting that among many teenagers, the process of clothes buying is a two stage process. In the first stage, the teenagers go on a "reconnaissance" mission with their friends to find out what is available and what is "cool." This is often a lengthy process. In the later phase, parents—who will need to pay for the purchases—are brought. This stage is typically much briefer.
  • Finally, the dissociative reference group includes people that the individual would not like to be like. For example, the store literally named The Gap came about because many younger people wanted to actively dissociate from parents and other older and "uncool" people. The Quality Paperback Book Club specifically suggests in its advertising that its members are "a breed apart" from conventional readers of popular books.

Theories of Group Behaviour
Many theories have emerged about how individuals influence group behaviour and, in turn, are influenced by the group. Here are some of these theories.
Any organization that is larger than one person is a group, and anywhere where there is more than one person there is bound to be different ideas, behaviours and interests, which can create conflict. Groups are defined as people that see themselves as a unit. Groups provide rewards to the members and anything affecting one member affects the entire groups. A common goal is shared amongst the members. Group effectiveness is impacted by certain factors:
  • Interdependence (how much each member relies on their other members to reach their goal)
  • Composition (what type of people and how the group is made up)
  • Size
  • Context and resources (what situation is the group in and what resources do they have available to them to help them to reach their goal)
  • Members abilities
  • Norms (the expected behaviours and attitudes of group members
  • Group cohesiveness (how well the members all get along)

Convergence Theory
Definition: Convergence theory has its roots in the functionalist perspective, which assumes that societies have certain requirements that must be met if they are to survive and operate effectively. Convergence theory states that as societies become increasingly industrialized, they begin to resemble other industrialized societies. That is, they converge towards other forms of social organization.

The convergence theory, in history and sociology, states that all industrial systems, whether capitalist or communist, would converge in their social,
political and economic systems because of the determinant effects of technological development. It is a view first put forward by Clark Kerr and
colleagues in the 1960s. It is located in the tradition of functionalist analysis which assumes industrialism to be a particular type of society with
specific needs for which like solutions will be found resulting in the development of similar types of society; it is a modern version of Max Weber\'s
theory of the importance of bureaucratic structures in the management of production and distribution of services. It also suggests that it is the forms
of technology to be found in a given society which determine the nature of that society.

Convergence theorists believe that the whole world is entering an era of complete industrialization. According to this theory a ‘logic of
industrialism ensures that all social developments result in definite changes in social institutions. All industrialized countries tend to become more alike.
It is claimed that it is only through industrialization that the countries of the Third World will be able to break out of their poverty.

Contagion Theory
Contagion theory is the proposes that the crowd behaviour depends on emotion interactions, which occur when people are in close contact with one with another. Proponents of this contagion theory arugued that the provided crowd, combined with high emotion stir-ups and compels different individuals to act as one body. This has been called herding behavior. Some of the psychological factors at work in a crowd situation include the following:

- heightened suggestibility
- observation of other's behaviour
- interactional stimulation
- a feeling of anonymity which may lead to lower inner constraints and less inhibitions
- an impersonal view of people outside the group this behaviour depends on emotional interactions this happens when people are close to one another.
All of these crowd situations make different people to act as one body and adopt what has been called herding behaviour.

Contagion Theories

explain networks members’ attitudes and behaviors
History and Orientation
Contagion theories seek to explain networks as conduits for “infectious” attitudes and behavior. Contagion theories are related to a number of theories: (e.g.) Structurational Theory, Symbolic Interaction, Gatekeeping, Network Theory and Analysis, Hypodermic Needle Theory. These theories all focus on the different aspects of the social construction process.
Core Assumptions and Statements
Contact is provided by communication networks in contagion theories. These communication networks serve as a mechanism that exposes people, groups, and organizations to information, attitudinal messages and the behaviors of others (Burt, 1980, 1987; Contractor & Eisenberg, 1990). Due to this exposure it increases the likelihood that network members will develop beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes similar to those of their networks (Carley, 1991; Carley & Kaufer, 1993). Contagion theories seek the relation between organizational members and their networks. The organizational members’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior are related to the information, attitudes, and behavior of others in the network to which they are linked. Factors such as frequency, multiplexity, strength, and asymmetry can shape the extent to which others influence individuals in their networks (Erickson, 1988).
Contagion can be distinguished into contagion by cohesion and contagion by structural equivalence (Burkhardt, 1994). Contagion by cohesion refers to the influence of those who had direct communication. These individuals’ perceptions of self-efficacy of the new technology were significantly influenced by people who had direct communication. Contagion by structural equivalence refers to the influence of those who had similar communication patterns. These individuals’ general attitudes and the use of the new technology were more influence by people who shared similar communication patterns.
Conceptual Model
Not applicable.
Favorite Methods
Network analysis, surveys, and longitudinal data.
Scope and Application
Contagion theories are used to explain network members’ attitudes and behaviors. Networks increase in importance and therefore the influence of the relation between members and networks can be explained by these theories. Applications are very broad, since organizations, government and certain interest groups all depend on networks.
Hospital employees who communicated with one another or shared supervisory-subordinate relationships were more likely to share similar attitudes about a recently introduced information technology. (Rice and Aydin’s, 1991).

Social Identity Theory
Social identity is a person's sense of who they are based on their groups membership. Groups give us a sense of social identity: a sense of belonging to the social world. To increase our self-image we enhance the status of the group we belong. For example, Canada is the best country in the world! We can also increase our self-image by discriminating and being prejudice against the out group "the group we dont belong too". For example the Americans, French etc. are a bunch of losers!

The first is categorization. We categorize objects in order to understand them and identify them. In a very similar way we categorize people (including ourselves) in order to understand the social environment. We use social categories like black, white, Australian, Christian, Muslim, student, and bus driver because they are useful.
If we can assign people to a category then that tells us things about those people, and as we saw with the bus driver example we couldn't function in a normal manner without using these categories; i.e. in the context of the bus. Similarly, we find out things about ourselves by knowing what categories we belong to. We define appropriate behavior by reference to the norms of groups we belong to, but you can only do this if you can tell who belongs to your group. An individual can belong to many different groups.
In the second stage, social identification, we adopt the identity of the group we have categorized ourselves as belonging to. If for example you have categorized yourself as a student, the chances are you will adopt the identity of a student and begin to act in the ways you believe students act (and conform to the norms of the group). There will be an emotional significance to your identification with a group, and your self-esteem will become bound up with group membership.
The final stage is social comparison. Once we have categorized ourselves as part of a group and have identified with that group we then tend to compare that group with other groups. If our self-esteem is to be maintained our group needs to compare favorably with other groups. This is critical to understanding prejudice, because once two groups identify themselves as rivals they are forced to compete in order for the members to maintain their self-esteem. Competition and hostility between groups is thus not only a matter of competing for resources (like in Sherif’s Robbers Cave) like jobs but also the result of competing identities.

  • Politics: Labor and the Conservatives
  • Gender: Males and Females
  • Social Class: Middle and Working Classes

Groupthink Theory
Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” . Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.

Have you ever thought about speaking up in a meeting and then decided against it because you did not want to appear unsupportive of the group's efforts? Or led a team in which the team members were reluctant to express their own opinions? If so, you have probably been a victim of "Groupthink".

Groupthink is an extreme form of conformity that occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people's common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Here, the desire for group cohesion effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving. The tendency to think alike and suppress dissent occurs when a group's need for total agreement overwhelms its need to make a decision. Groupthink assumes that the group has the right answer. However, solutions to problems are determined without fully considering all the alternatives.

To examples of Groupthink in action are: The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster and the Bay of Pigs invasion. Engineers of the space shuttle knew about some faulty parts months before takeoff, but they did not want negative press so they pushed ahead with the launch anyway. With the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy made a decision to send a force of CIA trained Cuban exiles into Cuba to overthrow the Fidel Castro government. Kennedy's team supported the group's decision, despite their own personal concerns. In the end, the Cuban armed forces defeated the exiled combatants in three days to the embarassment of the Kennedy administration. Group think is when your group does all the thinking and you dont want to be wrong with the group so you just agree with everyone in your group.

How to Spot Groupthink
Janis suggested that Groupthink happens when there is:
  • A strong, persuasive group leader.
  • A high level of group cohesion.
  • Intense pressure from the outside to make a good decision.

In fact, it is now widely recognized that Groupthink-like behavior is found in many situations and across many types of groups and team settings. So it's important to look out for the key symptoms.

Emergent Norm Theory
Ralph Turner and Lewis Killian found that crowds begin as collectivities composed of people with mixed interests and motivations. Especially people in groups who are less stable ex. riots, mobs, and protesting crowds. Norms may be vague and changing ex. when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup the whole city was in an uproar people rolled cars, broke into stores, and rioted in the streets. In other words people make their own rules as they act.
- The lawless are impulsive people who need little provocation before they try to retaliate. The lawless have little understanding of or concern for the consequences of their actions.- The suggestible are people who are easily influenced by an impulsive leader and unlikely to initiate action on their own.- The cautious are people with strong interests in the kinds of actions initiated by others, but who would act because of a fear of the law. If this constraint is lifted, they take action in pursuit of their own interests.- The yielders are people who are easily persuaded that everybody is engaged in a particular activity. Yielders act when a sufficient number of people are acting because they do not want to be left out, and see an action is right because others are engaged in it.- The supportive cannot be 'stampeded' into action; yet, they do not actively oppose it. They may watch or shout encouragement. They are not violent, but they do not stand out against violence in others.- The resisters are people whose values make them opposed to mob action and who will not support it, even passively. Because of this, they are in danger of their lives if they speak up at the wrong time.

Negative Group Influences
A gang is a group of recurrently associating individuals or close friends with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in a community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behavior.[2[[home#cite_note-2|]]] Gang members are typically "[[/wiki/Gang_initiation|jumped in]]" or have to prove their loyalty by committing acts such as theft or violence. Although gangs exist internationally, there is a greater level of study and knowledgeable information of gangs specifically in the [[/wiki/United_States|United States]].

While more structured than crowds or mobs, gangs exhibit some of the same collective behaviours, and these behaviours can be understood or explained by the theories of behaviour just reviewed. The California Council of Criminal Justice defines a gang as "a group of people who interact at a high rate among themselves to the exclusion of other groups." Some common characteristics of gangs include the following:
- a group name

- a defined neighbourhood or territory
- involvement in anti-social or criminal behaviour on a regular basis

Some gangs are made in prison other gangs are made on the street. Gangs are groups of people that want to commit crimes in a group. The leaders of gangs will give you rules to follow if you dont listen to them the leaders will have you beat up. Some people join gangs for protection and because they feel like they have no one there for them. There are three types of gangs:
- ethnic gangs
- turfs gangs
- prison gangs
While gang members may claim that theirs is unique, gangs fall into one of three categories:
-Traditional: These are the gangs that have multi-generational members. They are steeped in traditions and are often referred to as “turf gangs”.
-Non-traditional: These are the gangs that have mainly first time members in them. Gang members may have different reasons for belonging to the gang (power, structure, protection). They are more loosely organized than the traditional gangs.
-Entrepreneur: These are the gangs or gang members who are largely in it for the money. They engage in illegal activities such as selling drugs, stealing cars or car parts for fencing operations, etc.

Theory of cultural transmission
  • Shaw and McKay arguing that socially disorganized neighborhoods culturally transmit criminal traditions which are as transmissible as any other cultural elements.
  • Families in poor inner city areas have low levels of functional authority over children, who, once exposed to delinquent traditions, succumb to delinquent behavior. In such a cultural climate gang membership becomes a satisfying alternative to unsatisfactory legitimate conventions.
  • Conversely, conventionality dominates middle class areas and so middle class youth are not exposed to delinquent traditions and are adequately controlled by parents in a stable environment.
  • Shaw and McKay concluded that it is the environment and not the ethnic identity of the individual that determines involvement in crime.

Theory of Social Disorganization

  • Thrasher argued that economic destabilization contributed to social disorganization, which in turn, led to the breakdown of conventional social institutions such as the school, the church, and most importantly, the family, which “failed to hold the boy’s interest, neglects him or actually forces him onto the street”.
  • Thrasher maintained that one reason why social institutions failed to satisfy the needs of the populace was because so many people living in disorganized areas were immigrants. Immigrant parents were unable to help their children adapt to their new culture due to a lack of familiarity with local customs.

There are basically four types of gang members:
Hard-core: These are considered the O.G.s or Original Gangsters. They are in it for life and have often been in and out of the correction system for various crimes. They have done and will do anything for the gang (“hope-to-die-for” gang member). Hard-core members make up about 5-15% of the total gang membership.
Member: These are people who have gone through the initiation process and have become part of the gang. They have passed all of the gang requirements and tests and have become true gangbangers/homeboys/home girls.
Associate. These are the people who are closely associated with a certain gang. They may wear gang colors and may imitate members of a particular gang, but they are not yet official members. They are the prospects or “wanna be’s” who are trying to get into a gang and will do anything to be accepted.
Peripheral: These are the people who hang out with or are friends of gang members but do not claim any gang affiliation. They find the idea of gang life romantic and exciting.

What are signs that someone is in a gang?
Gang involvement does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process and if you are alert you will see the signs.
Colors – May show subtle or obvious choice of color in clothing or accessories.
Graffiti – Unusual signs, symbols, alphabets or nicknames on notebooks, papers.
Tattoos – Symbols or names tattooed on arms, chest or elsewhere on body.
Language – Use of uncommon terms, words, names or phrases.
Hand signs – Unusual ways of signaling or greeting each other.
Initiations – Suspicious or otherwise unexplained bruises, wounds, burns, or injuries may be a result of gang initiation ceremonies.
Behavior Change – Sudden mood or behavior changes, drop in grades, secretiveness, change in friends, truancy.
Milling – gathering and hanging out, especially where there is an audience

Sports Teams, Clothing, Logos and Gangs
Sports Team
Gang - Affiliation
Atlanta Braves
Initial "A" for Almighty
Boston Celtics
Colors - Green/Black
Spanish Cobras
Charlotte Hornets
Initials "C" & "H"
4 Corner Hustlers
Charlotte Hornets
Colors - Black/Pink
Imperial Gangsters

Chicago Bulls
Colors - Black/Red
Vice Lords
Chicago Black Hawks
Colors - Black/Red
Vice Lords
Chicago Cubs
Initial "C"
Spanish Cobras
Dallas Cowboys
Five point star
Denver Broncos
Switch "DB" for initials "BD"
Black Disciples
Detroit Lions
Colors - Black/Blue
Gangster Disciples
Detroit Tigers
Initial "D" for Disciples
Detroit Tigers
Colors: Black/Blue
Gangster Disciples
Duke University
Colors - Black/Blue;"Duke" = "Disciples Utilizing Knowledge Everyday"
Initial "G" for Gangster
Georgetown Hoyas
Hoyas" stands for "Hoover's On Your Ass" (Larry Hoover)
Gangster Disciples
Georgia Tech
Initial "G" for Gangster
Indiana University
Initials "I" & "U" overlapping appear to make the shape of a pitchfork
Kansas City Royals
Colors: Black/Blue
Kansas City Royals
Simon City Royals
LA Dodgers
Initial "D" for Disciples
Gangster Disciples
LA Kings
Latin Kings
LA Kings
"Kings" stands for "Kill Inglewood Nasty Gangsters"
Los Angeles Raiders
"Raiders" stands for "Ruthless Ass Insane Disciples Running Shit"
Miami Hurricanes
Color -Orange
Initial "M"
Maniac Latin Disciples
Minnesota Twins
Initial "M"
Maniac Latin Disciples
NY Yankees
Colors - Black/Blue/White
Gangster Disciples
North Carolina - University
Colors - Black/Blue
Oakland A's
Initial "A" for Ambrose
Oakland A's
Color - Green
Spanish Cobras
Orlando Magic
"Magic" stands for "Maniacs and Gangsters in Chicago"
Philadelphia Phillies
Initial "P" for "People"
Phoenix Suns
Initials "P" & "S"
Black Peace Stone Nation
Pittsburgh Pirates
Colors - Black/Gold
Latin Kings
Pittsburgh Pirates
Initial "P"; for Pirus (Bloods)
St. Louis Cardinals
red-colored hat
Spanish Vice Lords
Texas Rangers
Initial "T" looks like pitchfork pointing down
University of Illinois
Initials "U" & "I" together appear to be a pitchfork pointing up
Other Logos, Symbols and Affiliations
Used As
Gang Affiliation
British Knights
Initials "B" & "K" for Blood Killers
Burger King
Initials "B" & "K" for Blood Killers
Columbia Knights
Initials "C" & "K" for Crip Killer
Converse All Star shoe
Five point star in the logo of label
Starter Symbol
crack the five point star to disrespect the "People
Starter Symbol
five point star
FUBU (For Us-By Us) clothing
The number "05"
Colors - Black/Blue
Calvin Klein
Initials "C" & "K" for Crip Killer

Ethnic Gangs
These gangs define themselves by the nationality or race of the gang members. One category of ethnic gang is defined less by the ethnicities of the members than by the ethnicities they hate. Neo-Nazi gangs, skinhead gangs and white supremacist gangs unite because of their hatred for non-Protestant Christians, Jews, blacks and Hispanics.

Turf Gangs
gangs define themselves by the territory that they control. The gang members themselves usually live within this territory. There may be a common ethnicity within the gang simply because some neighborhoods have a certain amount of ethnic homogeneity. These gangs often name themselves after the area they control, such as the 10th Street Gang or the East Side Cobras. If members of other gangs stray into their territory, the punishment is usually a beating or death. This can spark deadly turf wars between rival gang.
Prison Gangs
When gang members go to prison, they don't necessarily relinquish their gang membership. Street gangs continue to exist (and fight other gangs) inside prison walls. But some gangs start inside prisons, and only later do they extend their reach to the outside world. These gangs obviously require members to have been in prison at one time, and are particularly tough and brutal. One gang expert wrote, "Putting young gang members in prison is like sending them to criminal college.

Official definitions

Federal definition. The federal definition of gang as used by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is [1]:
  1. An association of three or more individuals;
  2. Whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity, which they use to create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation, frequently by employing one or more of the following: a common name, slogan, identifying sign, symbol, tattoo or other physical marking, style or color of clothing, hairstyle, hand sign or graffiti;
  3. Whose purpose in part is to engage in criminal activity and which uses violence or intimidation to further its criminal objectives.
  4. Whose members engage in criminal activity or acts of juvenile delinquency that if committed by an adult would be crimes with the intent to enhance or preserve the association's power, reputation or economic resources.
  5. The association may also possess some of the following characteristics:
    1. The members may employ rules for joining and operating within the association.
    2. The members may meet on a recurring basis.
    3. The association may provide physical protection of its members from others.
    4. The association may seek to exercise control over a particular geographic location or region, or it may simply defend its perceived interests against rivals.
    5. The association may have an identifiable structure.

Negative Group Influences
The word cult derives from the Latin word Cultus which means worship. Cults have been defined in many different ways by many different people. A cult, for example, may be defined as a system of religious worship. This definition carries with it neither positive nor negative connotations. On the other hand, the description of a cult as a group or movement exhibiting excessive devotion or dedication to some person, ideas, or thing and, employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control, brings to mind frightening images of doomsday cults and mass suicides.

How a cults becomes dangerous

  • Seven Criteria that makes a destructive cult
- Self-appointed leader for people to follow
- Group devoted to a leader
- Leaders encourage and enforce the members to stop socializing with the world outside of the cult
- Everything outside of the cult is seen as inferior
- The cult causes its members harm
- Members are expected to be together on a daily basis

Common Characteristics of Cults
1 : formal religious veneration : worship
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4 : a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b : the object of such devotion
c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

- Conformity and commitment are expected of members.- Cult members show devotion, if not reverence, for their leader.- Information management and manipulative techniques may be used to promote dependency and subservience.

  • Independent and non-accountable - believers follow their own self-justifying moral codes: e.g. a Moonie may, in their own mind, justify deceptive recruiting as 'deceiving evil into goodness'.
  • Aspirational - they appeal to ambitious, idealistic people. The assumption that only weak, gullible people join cults is not necessarily true.
  • Personal and experiential - it is not possible to exercise informed free choice in advance, about whether the belief system is valid or not, or about the benefits of following the study and training opportunities offered by the group. The benefits, if any, of group involvement can only be evaluated after a suitable period of time spent with the group. How long a suitable period of time might be, depends on the individual, and cannot be determined in advance.
  • Hierarchical and dualistic - cult belief systems revolve around ideas about higher and lower levels of understanding. There is a hierarchy of awareness, and a path from lower to higher levels. Believers tend to divide the world into the saved and the fallen, the awakened and the deluded, etc.
  • Bi-polar - believers experience alternating episodes of faith and doubt, confidence and anxiety, self-righteousness and guilt, depending how well or how badly they feel they are progressing along the path.
  • Addictive - believers may become intoxicated with the ideals of the belief system, and feel a vicarious pride in being associated with these ideals. Cults tend to be cliquey and elitist, and believers can become dependent on the approval of the group's elite to maintain their own self-esteem. At an extreme, believers fear they will fall into hell if they leave the group.
  • Psychologically damaging - when established members leave or are expelled, they may develop a particular kind of cult-induced mental disorder, marked by anxiety and difficulty in making decisions. The disorder exhibits similarities to (but is not identical to) post-traumatic stress disorder, and certain types of adjustment disorders.
  • Non-falsifiable - a cult belief system can never be shown to be invalid or wrong. This is partly why critics have low credibility, and why it can be difficult to warn people of the dangers of a cult.

Recruitment & Motivation
Motivation to join extreme cults is almost exclusively based on dissatisfaction with life and difficulty in coping with its demands. Common targets for cult recruiters are those going through a recent divorce, have lost a family member, are unsatisfied with their jobs, or even those searching for a purpose or higher meaning in life. Cults provide a measure of identity and give meaning to life. Rules and regulations provide structure to those who feel adrift. The sense that others care makes the person who joins a cult feel secure and loved.

When recruiting cults do not go for an individual who has psychological problems; while they tend to be the most vulnerable. A cult will typically look for and individual who is well educated, productive and functions well in regular society, so that these individuals may continue to contribute to "the cause." To recruit these individuals a cult will generally approach when they are dealing with some sort of personal problems, whether it's heartbreak, loss of a job, or death. To recruit and individual with psychological problems, or a handicap of some sort would be seen as a loss of productivity.

IndoctrinationIndoctrination of new members into a cult is a group effort usually made by the older members of the cult. It often begins with a simple invitation to an event, party, or meeting. The recruiter may employ a wide variety of tricks to lure people in, such as bringing physically attractive members along, offering a monetary bonus for signing up, or taking the recruit for a tour to see the supposed good life that cult members live. The next step is referred to as "love bombing"; recruits are met with praise and attention from all cult members to make them feel welcome. Love bombing may continue for weeks or months, depending on the person. Someone with a weaker will may only need a few days of attention to feel at home with the group, others may not be so easily convinced and the attention will continue until they either decide to devote themselves or cut ties with the group. This method enforces a belief that the cult is a person's true family, isolating them from outside influences who may try to pull them away. Cutting ties with friends and family ensures that the recruit is dependent on the cult for decision making; they become a part of the "hive-mind".
LoyaltyOnce a person is fully indoctrinated into the cult, all aspects of their lives are up for scrutiny. Blackmail is often employed as a way of getting a member to stay in line, but one of the most common ways of ensuring loyalty is not up to the group at all. It's called the Sunk Cost Fallacy and it applies everywhere from people's relationships to their financial investments. Once a person has spent time and money to be accepted into the group, they are less likely to leave even if they are mistreated or threatened. They tend to think that if they leave, all of the sacrifices they have made so far will be for nothing, especially if it is possible to obtain the prize. Leaving could be viewed by the other members as weakness, and with all ties cut to people outside of the cult, a person may have nowhere else to go. These signs are almost identical to those seen in an abusive relationship because that's essentially what a cult is.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric social workers dealing with cult members suggested behavioral changes they labeled the cult indoctrinate syndrome. These changes included:

Sudden, drastic alteration of the individual's value hierarchy, including abandonment of previous academic and career goals. These changes are sudden and catastrophic, rather than the gradual ones that result from maturation or education.

Reduction of cognitive flexibility and adaptability; the cult member substitutes stereotyped cult responses for her or his own.

Narrowing and blunting of affect. Love feelings are repressed. The cult member appears emotionally flatter and less vital than before.

Regression of behavior to childlike levels; the follower becomes dependent on the cult leader and accepts the leader's decisions uncritically.

Physical changes; these changes often include weight loss and deterioration in physical appearance and expression.

Deprogramming - that is, providing members with information about the cult and showing them how their own decision-making power had been taken away from them.

Possible pathological symptoms; such symptoms can include altered states of consciousness.

Exit counseling identifies the educational process that takes place in efforts to get cult members to re-evaluate their membership. In fact "deprogramming" is in many ways a more accurate description of the process, but since that word is now tinged with memories of the early snatchings and restraint, most people are reluctant to use it.

Former members of groups relying mainly on the use of dissociative techniques - meditation, trance states, guided imagery, past-lives regression, and hyperventilation - have tended to exhibit these aftereffects:
Relaxation-induced anxiety and tics
Panic attacks
Cognitive inefficiencies
Dissociative states
Recurring bizarre content (such as orange fog)
Worry over the reality of "past lives"

Jonestown Massacre Documentary
This story is an excellent example of the dangers of religion, mind control and any hypocritical fiend preaching for their own prosperity.

Positive Influences of Groups
Mobs, gangs, and cults are groups of people who operate outside the socially acceptable belief systems and codes of conduct of the culture in which they exist. They operate outside of society to achieve their agendas. Other groups, such as social movement groups, political groups, enviromental groups and teams work within society to achieve their goals and bring about, or prevent, societal change. They do not isolate or alienate themselves from the society. Their views may not be the views of the majority. They are usually viewed as being pro-social or for the good of society. Social movements, political groups, and teams as collective groups can have a positive effect upon their members and society in general.
Social Movement
Social movements are a form of collective behaviour aimed at either promoting or resisting change in society. Members identify a problem, and make a commitment to do something about it such as enviromental groups. Social movements often begin slowly and with a small core of zealous workers. Over time, the movement spreads and eventually a formal group is formed. A four-stage model is sometimes used to trace the development of a social movement. Social movements force society to examine its beliefs and codes of conduct. Unlike gangs, cults or revolutionary movements, they accept the basic structure of society and seek to modify part of it. Reform or social movements attempt to gain support through legal and socially acceptable means.
Political Parties
Liberalism: aims at the development of individual freedom. Because the concepts of liberty or freedom change in different historical periods the specific programs of liberalism also change. Liberalism assumes that people have a rational intellect and the ability to recognize and solve problems. People can achieve systematic improvement in the human condition.Liberalism seeks improvement or progress by changing the existing order.

is based on two fundamental principles: the free market economy and social conservatism, in other words, respect for the past and a hierarchical view of society. "Social order" is maintained through established social institutions, such as government, church, family, and social class. Authority structures and the development of habits and traditions that promote respect for the existing order are encouraged. Inequality is considered to be a natural condition. Conservatives believe that individual and social morality and responsibility must come not from government but from institutions such as the family and the Church. Conservatives approach social change with great caution. Often opposed to liberalism, conservatism supports the maintenance of the status quo.


Refers to a broad array of ideologies and political movements with the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community for the purposes of increasing social and economic freedom, equality and cooperation.
Advocates a system of collective or government ownership a management of the means of production and distribution of goods. Where capitalism stresses competition and profit, socialism calls for cooperation and social service. Government ownership of public utilities, social assistance and equity programs, and government financed and regulated health programs are based on socialist principles.

Beginning in early childhood the tendency for people to form and identify with teams plays an important role in developing social relationships. Team relations are important aspects of our lives. Businesses are becoming more aware of the social and financial benefits of a team approach. Traditionally associated with sports, teamwork is also encouraged in classrooms, boardrooms, families, church organizations, clubs, and so on. As a team member, we develop attitudes, skills, and behaviours that can be applied to other aspects of life. We find some things that work and others that don't. Sometimes we develop life-long friendships and if we are lucky, we are exposed to role models who influence our lives in many ways.

When do people lose their sense of self in groups?Doing together what we would not do alone Social facilitation experiments show that groups can arouse people. Social loafing experiments show that groups can diffuse responsibility. Groups can generate a sense of excitement, of being caught up in something bigger than one's self. When high levels of social arousal combine with diffused responsibility, people may abandon their normal restraints and lose their sense of individuality. Such deindividuation is especially likely when, after being aroused and distracted, people feel anonymity while in a large group or wearing concealing clothing or costumes. The result is diminished self-awareness and self-restraint and increased responsiveness to the immediate situation, be it negative or positive.

Additional Resources