ICSA Today, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2015, 10
Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised
Michael D. Langone
Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.
Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine whether there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale” or a definitive checklist to determine whether a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.
Note: This checklist has gone through many revisions since the author first presented it in the 1990s. Many people have contributed suggestions and feedback to the various revisions, in particular Carol Giambalvo, Janja Lalich, Herb Rosedale, and Patrick Ryan.
About the Author
Michael D. Langone, PhD, a counseling psychologist, received a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1979. Since 1981 he has been Executive Director of International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). He has written and spoken widely on cult-related topics and is Editor-in-Chief of ICSA Today.
This article was originally posted on the Web in the late 1990s. The current, slightly modified version was published in ICSA Today, 6(3), 2015.