Humanistic Approaches to Positive Growth and Self-Acceptance

The Social Environment

Behaviorism is a school of psychology maintaining that to understand human behavior, one need only consider the reinforcing properties of the environment. Behaviorists believe that all behavior is learned.


Social cognition is how people think about themselves and the social world. The study of the mental processes people use to make sense out of their social environment.


Individual differences are defined as the aspects of people’s personalities that make them different from other people.

Individual differences conform in social situations,, WHY??


Self-esteem is a person’s evaluation of their own self-worth

Self-concept how one imagines other people perceive them

Self-perception also influences how your perceive others and how your act on your perceptions.


The mental processes we use to form judgments and draw conclusions about the characteristics and motives of others

Personal perception is an active and subjective process that always occurs in some interpersonal context, which has three key components:

The characteristics of the individual you are attempting to size up

Your own characteristics as the perceiver

The specific situation in which the process occurs


On the basis of very limited information, we quickly draw conclusions about the nature of people who are complete strangers to us,, how much of this analysis is a product of past experiences or stereotypes? How does esteem influence perception?


A cult is defined as a small religious or non-religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion or societal norms. The Cult has beliefs regarded by society as abnormal or regarded by many as extreme or dangerous.

What cults have you heard of?

How is a cult different from a religion?

How is a cult different from a sect?

Since 1970s, has taken on derogatory meaning…cults engaging in extreme or dangerous behavior has gotten publicity
How do we know when a cult is a dangerous cult?


Central authority in a single, charismatic leader – Viewed as a prophet, messenger – Not easily challenged
Adoration often directed to leader rather than outside force – Cult often lives and dies by the leader
Members willing to die or kill themselves if the leader says its necessary

Strict control over lives of members – Dress, marriage, reproduction, jobs, possessions

Separation from Outside Contacts – Including family and friends – Part of control – limits opportunities for intervention, criticism – Within cult, families sometimes separated

Polarized Worldview – Only the cult knows the right way to live and be – Life outside the cult is
dangerous, corrupt – “Us vs. Them” – Living in Isolation – Communes, colonies – Often in remote
places – Members do not come and go freely

Large Donations from Members, Small Group Size – Small size easier to control – Good standing dependent
on donations – May be required to give up material wealth

Conformity to the Group

Group is #1, individual is always second to the group – Independent thought suppressed, punished
Thought to your own wants, needs seen as sinful – GROUP THINK

Punishment for Criticism or Defection – Dire warnings against criticizing group even in small ways
Supernatural threats, threats of excommunication

Hassan developed the BITE acronym, which describes the components employed by destructive cults using mind control. BITE covers the following areas of control:

Behavior Control: An individual’s associations, living arrangements, food, clothing, sleeping habits, finances, etc., are strictly controlled.

Information Control: Cult leaders deliberately withhold or distort information, lie, propagandize, and limit access to other sources of information.

Thought Control: Cult leaders use loaded words and language, discourage critical thinking, bar any speech critical of cult leaders or policies, and teach an “us vs. them” doctrine.

Emotional Control: Leaders manipulate their followers via fear (including the fear of losing salvation, fear of shunning, etc.), guilt, and indoctrination.

What is social cognition?
Why is social cognition important?

How do you maintain your individuality under social and environmental pressures and influoences.

How important is self-esteem?

What would motivate you to conform?

What would prevent you from joining a cult?

Do you think the Cult members were manipulated or
where they willing participants?

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