Date of Award






Degree Type

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Brandt Smith

Second Advisor

Aisha Adams

Third Advisor

Diana Riser


Cults are communities that are seen as odd or strange. Lack of research done on cults makes it a phenomenon in society. With the help of evolutionary, social, and cognitive psychology, this phenomenon was analyzed and the behavior of the cult and its members were explained. Analysis of cults showed that there is an evolutionary need for them, for they are used as a means for social bonds and resources. Next, the identity of cult members was analyzed using a conveyor belt type method starting with social-identity followed by self-categorization and ending with deindividualization. Cult members then make decisions using a funnel-type of model starting with the charismatic leader, followed by propaganda, and then bounded rationality. Finally, forms of social influence like obedience conformity, and compliance keep members in the group and psychologically prevent them from leaving. After evaluating cults, I came to the conclusion that they are no different from any other group; the same psychological theories used to explain the behavior of other groups largely applies to cults, making them an average group from a psychological perspective.

Included in

Psychology Commons