College students and religious groups in Japan: How are they influenced and how do they perceive the group members?

Kiyoshi Ando, Shoji Tsuchida, Yoshiaki Imai, Kimihiro Shiomura, Koji Murata, Namiji Watanabe, Kimiaki Nishida, Ken'ichi Genjida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Almost 9,000 Japanese college students completed a questionnaire designed to tap: how they were approached by religious groups and how they reacted to them; how they perceived "mind control" techniques which they believed were adopted by some religious groups; and how their psychological needs were related to their reactions to the attempt to influence them by religious groups. About 20% of respondents listed religion-related requests as making the most impression. Although respondents' impressions of the recruiter were somewhat favorable in comparison with those of salespersons, their level of compliance was rather low. The regression analysis showed that they tended to comply with the request when they were interested in what the agents told them, when they were not in a hurry or did not have any reason to refuse, when they had a liking for the agents, and when they were told that they had been specially selected, that they could gain knowledge of the truth, and that they could acquire a special new ability. When asked to evaluate people who were influenced or mind controlIed by a religious group, the respondents tended to perceive that it was "inevitable" that they had succumbed, and they put less emphasis on dispositional factors. However, where mind control led to a criminal act, they tended to attribute responsibility to the person. More than 70% of respondents answered in the affirmative when asked if they themselves could resist being subjected to mind control, showing the students' underestimation of their personal vulnerability. The respondents' needs or values had little effect on the reactions, the interest, and the impression of the influencing attempt by religious groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-220
Number of pages15
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Attribution
  • Compliance
  • Cult
  • Mind control
  • Persuasion
  • Religious behavior
  • Responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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