My driving question was “why do people join cults? How do cult leaders manipulate people into joining cults?” I was interested in this topic because I have always been interested in Psychology and knew I wanted to do something related to it for March Madness. I had no idea what but I had seen a few interesting articles about cults and watched a documentary on it so I decided to go with that. I didn’t really know much about cults before my project, but I found out some pretty interesting things and it was hard to summarize it all on my website. While I was originally not super excited about my project since I decided on a topic in a crunch for time, I became more interested as I researched more, and actually found it quite interesting. The end product of my work is a website where I’ve compiled a fair amount of information on cults, ranging from psychological tactics to specific cults. Some things that were challenging in my project were being able to find sources that were both trustworthy and not only available to college students or other higher level academic institutions, but also just being able to digest some of the higher-level texts I was reading became hard at times.
Throughout the year, my project changed quite a bit. Originally, group compliance and social proof played pretty big roles in my project and I was going to run a whole experiment. However, as the year went on I found that it would’ve been harder to do this with COVID and that topic became a much much smaller part of the project. Another thing which I had originally planned to do was create a physical magazine of my project, however, that didn’t work out so I instead created a website, which showcases some of what I’ve learned.