Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

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IT_Veteran
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Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by IT_Veteran » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:28 am

All,

Steven Hassan, developer of the BITE model, is asking for survey responses to behaviors of controlling groups. Survey is anonymous, but wow did I find a lot of things that resonated with me. If you have a few minutes, the survey is worth a look. I already knew the church was high-demand and could be controlling, but a lot of these questions surprised me, TBH.

https://freedomofmind.com/scientific-re ... influence/

Reuben
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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Reuben » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:31 pm

Well, I'm learning that Mormon missions are cults.

I'm also learning that Hassan isn't very good at writing survey questions. Who knows what glossolalia is? I mean, I do, but what normal people do?
Learn to doubt the stories you tell about yourselves and your adversaries.

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by IT_Veteran » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:54 pm

Reuben wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:31 pm
Well, I'm learning that Mormon missions are cults.

I'm also learning that Hassan isn't very good at writing survey questions. Who knows what glossolalia is? I mean, I do, but what normal people do?
I didn't. I had to stop in the middle and Google it. I noted that in the survey feedback. To be fair to Hassan, he did say in the blog post that this initial attempt is part of getting the instrument right.

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oliver_denom
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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by oliver_denom » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:28 pm

I listened to the Mormon Stories podcast on this. The first thing that came to mind was the fact that the entire model just seemed so anecdotal. It's not as if a scientific definition exists as to what constitutes a dangerous group, and it's even more difficult when you try to pin down an answer for what makes a "helpful" religion over a "harmful" one. You'll have some like Richard Dawkins who would argue that religion is inherently harmful, no matter its content. It really seemed like the panel discussion after Hassan was able to really stretch parts of the model to cover Mormonism that really didn't seem appropriate. For this to be useful, I just think there should be better definitions and rigor for what can or can't be applied to it.

That being said, he did say that he was launching a research initiative to back his model up with science. The only problem is, that's not really how science works. You don't generally start with a conclusion and then go out to find evidence for it. So I'm sort of ambivalent toward the whole thing. It feels like there's something there, but it's just not doing the work that people are claiming it to do.

It's probably the case that I'm just missing information.
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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by IT_Veteran » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:40 pm

oliver_denom wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:28 pm
I listened to the Mormon Stories podcast on this. The first thing that came to mind was the fact that the entire model just seemed so anecdotal. It's not as if a scientific definition exists as to what constitutes a dangerous group, and it's even more difficult when you try to pin down an answer for what makes a "helpful" religion over a "harmful" one. You'll have some like Richard Dawkins who would argue that religion is inherently harmful, no matter its content. It really seemed like the panel discussion after Hassan was able to really stretch parts of the model to cover Mormonism that really didn't seem appropriate. For this to be useful, I just think there should be better definitions and rigor for what can or can't be applied to it.

That being said, he did say that he was launching a research initiative to back his model up with science. The only problem is, that's not really how science works. You don't generally start with a conclusion and then go out to find evidence for it. So I'm sort of ambivalent toward the whole thing. It feels like there's something there, but it's just not doing the work that people are claiming it to do.

It's probably the case that I'm just missing information.
I listened to the MS episodes too and came away with a different take on it. I think it's like much of psychology where certain behaviors, beliefs, and practices are components of various mental illnesses, but may also be present in limited ways in healthy individuals. I appreciate his insight into this and his attempt to explain that healthy organizations also participate in some of these behaviors and practices in limited ways. I think the real point of the whole thing was to try and identify those areas that are unhealthy and why. Yes, the panel reached a bit on some things, but I think that has more to do with the issues being couched in their own experiences. Hassan's is as well, but he's been able to look outside of that experience as well and start identifying common traits in organizations that are clearly unhealthy. Moonies, Scientology, NXIVM, etc..

I think that many times hypotheses are formed out of anecdotal observation. He doesn't seem to me like one that would be unwilling or unable to confront his biases and change his mind given new evidence.

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by jfro18 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:40 pm

My personal opinion (as someone who does marketing research for a living), is that this type of survey is incredibly suspect and would be so much better in a focus group setting. The problem, of course, is that focus groups cost a ton of money, time, resources where these kinds of surveys are cheap.

But if anyone cares... the big problems I have after taking it were:
1. What one person perceives as say a 4 might be much different than what another person thinks is a 4. It's really subjective, which is going to be the case with any survey like this whether it's customer satisfaction, how much you liked your food, etc. But I personally kept thinking "The church did do that, but did they do it enough to be a 3,5, or what?"

2. As was mentioned earlier, I was not sure on some of the terms as well as the questions. I think somehow those need to be more focused questions, which is tough because the most specific/long you make the questions, the more you risk respondents dropping out.

It's a good start - I just think it's a really tough setting for a survey. On some level you'd be better off focusing on less questions but allowing for respondents to give the # and then a quick explanation as to why they picked it. That way as you're examining the surveys, you could kind of pair them together to get more uniformity in the results.

I thought the Mormon Stories on this was good - I thought the panel afterwards was good too... of course on a few areas there were stretches, but that's what makes it interesting to me in that everyone sees things a little differently. I hope they do follow-up with the rest of the BITE model with a panel as I thought that was worth listening to as I got some work done and walked the dog. :)

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Reuben » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:52 pm

Yeah, this is only a good start.

I think the questions would be easier to answer and the results would be more consistent and repeatable if there were four possibilities: never, sometimes, often and always.

It would also be good to ask the questions about behavior control more than once, for different times of life. Otherwise, Mormon missions will drag Mormonism's averages way up. There are similar higher-control situations in other religions; e.g. Bethel for JWs and Sea Org for Scientologists.

If he wants this to be of any use, Hassan should find correlations between these answers and common psychometrics that indicate distress, impairment, bad behavior, or traits that are known to correlate with bad behavior. I'll bet he would find a correlation between overall control and collective narcissism, for example, or between using guilt and shame to control and low or unstable self-esteem. Until he finds correlations, all he's got are subjective reports of behavior that most organizations engage in to some extent, and no way to determine at what level they become undesirable.
Learn to doubt the stories you tell about yourselves and your adversaries.

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Cnsl1 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:38 pm

oliver_denom wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:28 pm
That being said, he did say that he was launching a research initiative to back his model up with science. The only problem is, that's not really how science works. You don't generally start with a conclusion and then go out to find evidence for it. So I'm sort of ambivalent toward the whole thing. It feels like there's something there, but it's just not doing the work that people are claiming it to do.
Actually, that is how science works. You come up with an idea (maybe based on your experiences, observations, prior research), then you test your idea. While you don't start with a conclusion, you certainly start with a hypothesis you think may be correct. I don't care how much he thinks his model is correct, so long as he rigorously tries to disprove it. If he can't, then maybe it's right. Surveys aren't going to "prove" anything anyway. A survey can be a good research method, but it's not going to prove his model. It could support his model in a correlative fashion, but never prove or even indicate cause.

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Cnsl1 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:45 pm

Well, after reading his introduction, I don't think he writes all that well. Sorry, but for a doctoral student, this isn't great. I'm interested in more of the research he's basing his ideas upon, so some more support there would be nice.

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Hagoth » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:20 am

My comment at the end was that I answered as a formerly believing member of the LDS church, but that my responses would have been much more critical if I had answered in regards to my time as a missionary for the church.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Angel
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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Angel » Mon Apr 11, 2022 4:42 pm

Re-opening this old thread. Has anyone here read Hassan's book "combating cult mind control"? What did you think of it? Any better resources out there?

I'm starting to realize my parents are in a ... different cult. They do read, study, etc. What is the best resource on cults everyone has found?
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by moksha » Wed Apr 13, 2022 2:02 am

Reuben wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:31 pm
Who knows what glossolalia is? I mean, I do, but what normal people do?
Isn't that a new brand of lipstick?
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Re: Steven Hassan's survey on controlling groups

Post by Yobispo » Mon Apr 25, 2022 2:14 pm

Angel wrote:
Mon Apr 11, 2022 4:42 pm
Re-opening this old thread. Has anyone here read Hassan's book "combating cult mind control"? What did you think of it? Any better resources out there?

I'm starting to realize my parents are in a ... different cult. They do read, study, etc. What is the best resource on cults everyone has found?
It's a quick read and quite concise. I recommend.

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