Would You Ever Join a Cult?

By: Marie Hullett

Would You Ever Join a Cult?
Image: Towfiqu Photography/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh contaminated food across Oregon. Jim Jones from the Peoples Temple encouraged his followers to consume a cyanide-laced drink, causing 909 to die. Branch Davidian leader David Koresh believed himself a Messiah, boldly declaring all women as his "spiritual wives." After being locked in a compound with stockpiled weapons for months on end, the Branch Davidian's demise came after a 51-day standoff with the F.B.I. And these are just a few of many, many cults that shocked the globe. 

The word "cult" became popularized in the U.S. in the 1930s as a term for "faith healing" practices. At the time, people used the word cult to refer to these ceremonies, in which people believed that illnesses, ailments and other grievances could be resolved through prayer or worship. Since then, the word has evolved quite a bit, though no one can exactly agree on a definition.

Today, the term generally refers to a group of people defined by their "abnormal" spiritual, religious or philosophical beliefs. It's usually used as a pejorative term since the groups are often deemed deviant or immoral. And, let's face it: while they often reel followers in with messages of hope and unity, they tend to keep them aboard through control and sublimation. Naturally, they often end in complete disaster. 

So, is joining a cult your destiny, or will you manage to steer clear of compounds and sprawling wilderness retreats? There's only one way to find out, and that's to take the following quiz. 

Imagine that someone comes up to you and asks if you want to take a personality assessment. It will only take 20 minutes; you just have to accompany them back to their headquarters. What do you say?
I've already done that! But I'll do it again.
Sure, why not?
No thanks, I'm busy.
Get lost.

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Pretend you're on jury duty. Most of the other jurors want to convict someone you think is completely innocent. How likely are you to speak out?
I'll just go with the group.
I might not try very hard if the majority has already made up their minds. What can I really do?
I'll speak out and try to change their minds.
I'll persuade them with every piece of compelling evidence I have.

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Whether on Tumblr, Reddit, 4chan or another form of social media, are you a part of any small, niche online communities?
Yes. Several, in fact. Do you want my handle?
Just one, but I'm very active on it.
I wouldn't call it niche or small, but I do contribute to one group occasionally.
No.

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Some people see the glass as half-empty, others, half-full. What type of person are you?
An optimist
An idealist
A realist
A pessimist

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Age is just a number. Still, how old are you?
Between 18 and 35
Under 18
Between 35 and 55
Over 55

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Friends often know how to tell it like it is. Which one of these terms would they most likely use to describe you?
Innocent
Big-hearted
Humorous
Cunning

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Some societies are very collectivist; others are more individualistic. How would you describe yourself?
Collectivist
I don't know.
I'm somewhere in the middle.
Very individualistic

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Let's pretend you want to buy something off Craigslist. Do you have any apprehensions about meeting up with the seller?
Not really. People just like to fear-monger.
A little, but I'll take the risk and swing by their house. What could go wrong?
Of course. To play it safe, I'll bring a friend and meet in a public place.
I don't buy stuff on Craigslist, because I just assume they're scamming me.

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Take a moment to reflect upon your life. Have you ever felt like you lost your sense of self in order to fit in with a group?
Yes, all the time, including right now.
A few times
Maybe just in high school
No

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Pretend that your name is on the list at an exclusive local club. How does that make you feel?
Awesome! I love to feel special.
Pretty cool, thanks
What club? I'll go, I guess, if I'm on the list ...
Like, whatever. Count me out.

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Excuse me, this person on the street just wants 10 minutes of your time to talk about your hopes and dreams. What do you say?
Sure! I'd love to discuss my inner-most desires.
I suppose I have a few minutes to spare.
No, thank you, I've got to get to work. Maybe next time!
I don't say anything; I just keep walking.

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Pretend you just met someone new. Do you tend to assume the best or worst of new acquaintances?
The best! People are the best.
People are innocent until proven guilty.
I'm pretty skeptical of people, to be honest.
Do. Not. Trust. Humans.

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Fortunately, places like the U.S. have amendments that establish freedom of religion. If you had to choose one of these religions, though, which one would you choose?
Scientology
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Islam
Buddhism

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Be honest. Have you ever been called naive?
That's basically my middle name!
A couple of times
Maybe when I was younger
Never

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Let's talk about your romantic life for a minute. How easily do you fall in love?
What can I say? I love to love! But I only said "I love you" on the first date once. And there was that courthouse wedding after three days of knowing each other ...
I sometimes wear my heart on my sleeve, so perhaps easier than most.
I'm pretty guarded when it comes to love.
My heart is like an arctic iceberg, except that nothing will ever melt it.

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Some people like to stand out from the crowd; others prefer to blend in. How about you?
I like to fit in.
I'm not really sure.
I'm somewhere in the middle.
I like to stand out.

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Pretend that you're on a bookshelf. So, are you an open book or a closed book?
Very, very open
I'm in the middle.
I'm pretty closed.
Snapped shut and locked with a lock without a key.

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Everyone goes through ups and downs. What is the state of your life like right now?
A total struggle
I've recently run into a bit of hardship.
It's all right.
Things are great.

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You're at a dinner party, and the person seated next to you is extremely chatty — so much so, that you can hardly get a word in. Do you mind garrulous individuals?
No, not at all. I love to listen, and I'm quite receptive to what people say.
I wouldn't really mind, no, as long as the conversation keeps flowing.
I get easily exhausted by endless chatter, especially if the person never asks me any questions.
I would just move seats.

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Growing up, many people's parents warned them against talking to strangers. Did you heed this advice?
No! I couldn't help it; I talked to everyone. And I still do.
I talked to strangers now and then, but only if they seemed trustworthy.
Yeah, for the most part
Yes. I spoke to no one.

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Let's talk about life. What's most important to you in this world?
Community and belonging
My faith
Love
My career

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Think about your intimate relationships over the years. Have you ever been shocked to find out that you had the completely wrong idea about someone?
Ha, all the time
Yes, I've endured quite a few unpleasant surprises I definitely didn't see coming.
I can't say that I didn't notice any clues beforehand.
Nope

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Some people attend church every Sunday; others have never read any religious texts. Would you describe yourself as religious or spiritual?
I'm a spiritual being.
I was raised in a religious household, but I don't subscribe to any one religion at the moment.
I'm religious.
Neither

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Are you familiar with the Solomon Asch Conformity Experiment of 1951?
No. What's that?
I'll have to look it up.
I think I learned about it in psychology class.
Yes, it demonstrates how vulnerable most people are to social pressure.

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Have your friends ever warned you that someone was trying to take advantage of you? If so, did you believe them?
Yes, it's happened, but I still gave the accused the benefit of the doubt.
Yes, and I did believe them. They were right.
This has never happened to me.
No, I'm too discerning to let people take advantage of me.

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So, do you want to join my group? It's really accepting and fun! First, I just need one small piece of collateral.
Yes!
OK, why not?
I'll think about it.
No.

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Some people love being pranked; others hate it. Either way, how many April Fool's jokes have you fallen for in recent years?
Too many to count
I love a good practical joke, and I've fallen for quite a few.
A couple
None

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Let's take a moment to talk about university Greek life. Have you ever been or would you ever join a sorority or fraternity?
Already in one!
I'm considering rushing.
I haven't, and I doubt I'd join one.
I'd rather eat worms.

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Do you ever feel like you just don't belong in the world?
All the time, but I wish I did
Sort of, yeah
Not really
I don't want to belong.

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It's time to get dressed. Which of these outfits would you like to wear every day?
Some type of uniform. I don't like to have to think about what to wear.
A flowing, white ensemble. with a daisy chain on my head
Office attire
I like to change it up.

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