Blog Post #5- Inquiry Research Round #3- “Why are people attracted to cults?”

Charles Manson, leader of the The Manson Family- committed nine murders [6]

Hello everyone! My inquiry question is ” Why are people attracted to cults?”. For my final round of research, I will be discussing the mentality of cult leaders. I will explain how do cults find people to recruit ( recruitment methods) , how do they persuade them, and characteristics of the cult leader. 

 The Common Recruitment Methods 

Emotional influence 

The first method is emotional influence. Certain cases of recruitment are with friends or family, but mostly from strangers. These recruiters are often overly kind in the beginning. Slowly, they start to talk about this “group they are in, talking about they’re “amazing experiences” and such. According to previous cult members, some of these recruiters seem so kind and warm hearted that they feel attached to them. They feel as if they cannot leave their side, like an addiction. They use large amounts of flattery. Recruiters will usually come in at a vulnerable time in your life, such as the death of a loved one or a professional loss. [1]


These recruiters will recruit in places where you least expect.They hide in places like high schools and universities, where the victims are unsuspecting and vulnerable. Not many people expect to be recruited by a cult member in a well-frequented, public area.The Moonies, also known as unification movement, used this tactic to recruit cult members. They would ask scientists, professors, etc. At a local university To sponsor their “events” as “entertainment”, which was really a cult recruitment. They called this “Week of Student Culture”. It is important to remember that cults can recruit anywhere. [1]

Methods of authority 

This is taking advantage of the how the human brain reacts in such situations.If we see a large amount of people strongly agreeing with someone about something, chances are, you will also believe.This is why cult members do not want people doubting what they say, which can lead to cognitive deficiencies in cult members. [1] [2]


The characteristics of the cult leader

 Cult members have very charismatic personalities ( meaning someone who has “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”) [4].This is the key characteristic of a cult leader. How do cult leaders act? They are often a dictator. They guilt members and induce shame upon members. Leaders and the leadership also force members to think a certain way. They do this by restricting and censoring outside information. You must not question what they say Scares the member if they want to leave. This causes cognitive deficiencies in cult members, especially those who were born into them. The members are given the task of recruiting more people. [3] 

Targeting vulnerable people is a tactic that is highly used in cult recruitment. Individuals who have recently suffered from professional of personal losses. [2] Knowing the characteristics of cult leaders can greatly reduce the risk of being unknowingly recruited. [1]

Further tactics used/formed by the cult leaders

  1.  A cult isolates people.
  2. total ideology- forcing members to believe in one thing, and one thing only
  3. brainwashing [5]

Thank you so much for reading this post! Hope you all learnt something, and have a great day 🙂





5 Replies to “Blog Post #5- Inquiry Research Round #3- “Why are people attracted to cults?””

  1. Hi Nikki,
    Great job on the research! It is well detailed and fascinating to read about the cults. Again not a topic, I went in-depth before, but your research gave a new insight into the cults.

    Can’t wait to read more about your upcoming posts/researches,
    – Lokshana 🙂

  2. Hi Nikki! This was a very interesting read! I found it fascinating to read the common recruitment methods. I have never really thought much about cults and after reading your three rounds of research, I have learned so much. Great job on your three rounds of research! 🙂

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