Have you ever wondered why some people join cults? Certainly no one wakes up and thinks, "I'll find a cult to join today." The reality is that cults can prey on unsuspecting individuals, and they can lure them in slowly before the tell-tale signs of cult behavior appear.

Cult-susceptible Mindsets

A majority of cult experts tend to agree on the factors that subject certain people to the manipulation of cults. People who may join cults tend to subscribe to one or more of these mindsets:

Idealists: While optimism can be a good thing, these individuals are unrealistically in awe of the possibilities for a better world and believe that there truly is good in everyone.

Dependent: According to cult expert and psychologist Michael Langone, this is an intense desire to belong to a group of people, and is rooted in poor self-confidence.

Gullible: Anyone who believes everything he/she is told is susceptible to cult manipulation.

Disillusioned: These individuals feel alienated by society or their culture and want it to change.

Unassertive: People who are afraid to question leaders or authority figures, and are hesitant to say no to others could be drawn into cults.

Impatiently wanting solid answers: People who want quick, solid explanations about everything and can't stand ambiguity would find cults appealing because recruiters are trained to offer specific answers.

Anyone who is unaware of the threats that cult leaders and members pose could be approached without them realizing. This is not to say that everyone with these characteristics would simply join, and this does not mean that people without these characteristics could never find themselves entangled. Cult recruiters are seemingly friendly, yet in reality they are deceptive and manipulative.

Cult-susceptible Life Stages or Events

Studies show that most cult members are under the age of 30, meaning that college-aged individuals are most commonly recruited into cults.

While this younger age group is most commonly swept in, they are far from being the only ones who join cults. Periods of intense stress can cause people to be more open to smiling faces who seem to take an interest in them.

In fact, any major life transition such as moving to a new place, getting a divorce, losing a very close loved one, starting college, and beginning or changing careers can be a potential opportunity for a cult member to begin interaction. It will seem harmless at first. Unfortunately, you may not realize you are involved with a cult until you are deep and committed.

Red Flags

If the group sounds too good to be true, it just might be false. Everything might seem perfect at first, but it may change once they convince you to commit.

Don't join a group that tries to convince you that your already existing friends and family don't care about you or understand you. They are trying to isolate you so that you will feel alone and then join the group to belong somewhere.

Make your own decisions. You should not be made to feel guilty for not attending a meeting or following specific instructions. If you "must do what you are told" in order to be a part of the group, MOVE ON and be your own person.

If your schedule is becoming monopolized by the group, consider that they want to keep you busy and distracted from the outside world.