A cult may be positive or negative, depending on its effect on its individual members. One goal of a negative or destructive cult is to try to make its members think in specific, distorted ways that prevent rational decision making.

Positive Cult

Negative Cult

separation from distractions

isolation from outside influences that might contradict teachings


enslaves; mental, emotional, physical and economic dependence


dishonest and partial truths




manipulative, coercive, behavior control

instructs, educates and guides

abuses, shames, brainwashes

respect of personal boundaries

lack of physical privacy and personal boundaries

confession to identify areas for personal growth

confession as a means to remove any sense of mental privacy

functional thought

dysfunctional thought (all-or-nothing, black and white)

encourages the individual

discourages any independent thought

encourages questioning

discourages questions

group as source of mutual support

conformity with subservience to the group ("marching in step")

mentor or teacher who guides

charismatic leader who dictates

tolerant of others, open-minded

intolerant of anyone who thinks differently, alienated, close-minded


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.