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Cultic Studies Journal

Expanding the Groupthink Explanation to the Study of Contemporary Cults

 

Psychological Manipulation and Society: cults, cult groups, new religious movements

Cultic Studies Journal
Psychological Manipulation and Society
Vol. 12, No. 1, 1995

Expanding the Groupthink Explanation to the Study of Contemporary Cults

Mark N. Wexler, Ph.D.
Simon Fraser University Burnaby, British Columbia

Abstract:
Janis's groupthink model is the most frequently used model in studying group decision making. This paper critically reviews Janis's model and seeks to evaluate its applicability to the study of decision making in cults. Janis's model is found wanting. It fails to look at:

  1. how cult leaders, through the use of ordeals, draws a loyal, elite group of decision makers about them,
  2. how the decision elite within a cult use a mechanism of social control based on guilt, fear, or shame to create deindividuation in cult members,
  3. how the decision elite are imbued with the virtue of infallibility and how this is used to create enthusiastic conformity in cult members, and
  4. how the wild premises and erratic decision making in the cult are facilitated by the awe in which the cult members hold the charismatic leader.

Order: Expanding the Groupthink Explanation to the Study of Contemporary Cults

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