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Article
November 1983

Engaged Members of the Unification ChurchImpact of a Charismatic Large Group on Adaptation and Behavior

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(11):1197-1202. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790100043006
Abstract

• This project was designed to study the psychological nature of compliance with unusual behavioral norms among members of a charismatic religious sect. Three hundred twenty-one members of the Unification Church had been placed into marital engagement a year previously in a highly unusual fashion: their partners were assigned to them by the group's leader as part of a religious ritual. The abrogation of contemporary norms for mate selection was not associated with increased psychological distress. Church-related life experiences, however, were perceived as being of considerable psychological impact. Multiple regression analyses further revealed that the vulnerability of respondents to perceived life disruption was relieved by their affiliation to the sect. This "relief effect," associated with social and religious ties to the sect, apparently reinforces compliance with the group's behavioralN norms, particularly since the manner of reinforcement is integrated into the social structure of the group.

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