Cult Psychology: Background information when reading The Project

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The Project

by Courtney Summers

The Project by Courtney Summers X
The Project by Courtney Summers
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    Feb 2021, 352 pages

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Cult Psychology

This article relates to The Project

When Prophecy Fails book coverCults are often difficult to identify from the outside, given that a common characteristic is members' denial that any dysfunctional elements are at play within their community. Many countries, including the U.S., do not have a legal definition, but prefer to use a series of criteria. However, a sort of colloquial understanding is more easily agreed upon: a cult is a group bound together by veneration for an ideal — often religious, and often represented by an individual figure who emerges as the cult leader.

The question of why people are drawn into cults has been a source of fascination for decades. One of the first psychological studies conducted on cults was by social psychologist Leon Festinger and colleagues. They researched a UFO-based religion called the Seekers for several years, and their findings went into a 1956 book titled When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World. Festinger developed the ...

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