Introduction as obedience or compliance to a


            Humans have social needs that they want to be fulfilled
to have a sense of acceptance and belonging in the society. The need of social
acceptance and belonging makes the individual to conform to certain
groups/cults. Conformity is changing the behavior / attitude by being
influenced by other individual / cult so as to be perceived as someone who
belongs to the particular cult to which the individual conforms (Yu & Sun,
2013). Thus conformity can also be termed as obedience or compliance to a
particular group because it is a change in attitude done under the real or
imaginary influence of others. There are various reasons why individuals
conform to a group or cult and some of those reasons could be social acceptance,
maintain credibility, or being accurate in social behavior. This paper would
examine the reasons about why people conform to cult behavior, and what happens
in case of non-conformity.

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People Conform to Cult Behavior

            There are
various reasons that make individuals conform to cults. In many cases, when
people have ambiguity in their mind, they look at others in the social group to
get a hint about how to behave in a situation. In other cases, a person might
have more experience or knowledge that leads others to conform to him, and the
more is the conformation, the bigger the group/cult becomes which leads to
increased influence it has on others as well to conform. There are also some
cases when individuals conform to a cult because they don’t want to be rejected
by the cult as they consider the cult to be important part of their life, or
they conform when the society in which they live is collectivistic that
requires conformation to cult and the non-conformist is neglected. These
reasons to conformation have been broadly classified into two groups of
influences and those are a) Informational Social Influence, and b) Normative
Social Influence (Aronson et al., 2015).

Social Influence

            The conformity under informational influence happens when
a person is in an ambiguous situation and looks at others to get clues about
how to act in a situation. In this scenario, the person who conforms believes
that others are more knowledgeable than him, and conforming to them would
result in an accurate behavior. Thus when an individual changes his behavior
under informational influence, he genuinely believes that the cult he/she is
conforming to is accurate in their information, rather than conforming because
of some pressure from the group (Stallen & Sanfey, 2015). However,
conforming under informational influence may have negative impact when a person
starts conforming to the cult that is acting on the basis of half-knowledge or
half-truth. Thus, in this situation, an individual might face loss by
conforming to cult behavior.

Social Influence

            Individuals conform under normative influence when they
want to be accepted by liked by others in the cult or want to avoid any kind of
rejection, humiliation or punishment by the cult members.  However, under normative influence to
conform, the individual might disagree to the cult internally even though
he/she conforms to the beliefs of the cult externally. Conformity under
normative influence is also determined by how much power/influence an
individual has in the cult. If an individual is influential, then he might not
conform to all the ideologies of the cult because he/she does not have the fear
of being ridiculed or punished, nor will the cult do this.

            Individuals, who fear loneliness or think that they would
be considered as an outsider to the cult on non-conformance, conform to the
cult behavior under normative influence, even if it comes at the cost of their
integrity or their individuality. Thus, when people fear rejection from their
chosen cult, they change their attitude and behavior under the normative
influence, and conform to the cult.

of Non-Conformation to Cult Behavior

            An individual
would not conform to the cult behavior if he feels that his individuality is
more important than complying to the beliefs of a cult, or his own knowledge
and is superior to the cult knowledge. When an individual has influential power
over others, non-conformance to the cult behavior would not impact him
negatively as the person shows his individuality and does not fear of being
ridiculed or punished, nor would the other members of the cult would ridicule
or punish him because of his influential power.

in case of other individuals, non-conformance to cult behavior may result in
the individual being ridiculed, out casted or punished by other members of the
cult. However, sometimes, the other members might try to persuade the
individual to conform to the cult behavior, but even then if the individual
does not conform, he is rejected by the group.


            All the humans on the planet need a social group to feel
loved and have a sense of belonging and acceptance. The fear of being rejected
by the chosen cult or being accurate in any situation leads an individual to
conform to cult behavior. Most of the individuals always conform to one or the
other type of cult/group behavior. However, while conforming to cult behavior a
person should not forget about his individuality and integrity.