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Heavens Gate Essay

761 words - 4 pages

Social Psychology
Application paper 2

In the late 1970’s a music teacher, Marshall Applewhite, and a nurse, Bonny Nettles, set out to find their purpose on earth. Together they had created Heavens Gate. Applewhite, or also known as ‘BO’, believed that the earth was going to be recycled and that it was also a garden to grow souls. Once the souls were developed it was time to exit. To most people the “exit” was suicide, but for members of the cult it was moving on to a more developed kingdom. ‘Do’ had told his members to look for a sign in the night sky. They believed that a spaceship, or UFO, would pick them up and take them to start their new lives.
If someone were to stay a ...view middle of the document...

With a total of 39 people dead, it was the greatest mass suicide ever.
If we look at this at a social psychological view, we can relate this to many different theories that would explain why these people acted the way they did in this cult, and even in other forms of groups.
Conformity and a type of persuasion, peripheral, are some theories that would be reasonably acceptable. In a Heavens Gate Documentary, ‘Do’ had said “If you don’t believe it that’s fine, but for your sake I hope you do believe it, for those who do believe it stand a possibility for a future beyond this recycling time. It’s suicide not to leave.” Here is an example of conformity and even the peripheral route to persuasion. What Applewhite does here, is gives you the option to believe it or not, but says that if you do believe it then you may possibly have another life ahead of you. This statement may have been attractive and made members of the group intrigued as to what he had to say.
The Barnum effect is a tendency for people to accept very general and vague characterizations of them selves and take them to be accurate. A good...

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