How to Tell if a Group is High-Control

Anonymous, Informative and Free!

Are you concerned about a group that you or someone you know belongs to? Do you wonder if the group has high-control or manipulative elements? Take this test to find out. The test is completely anonymous and gives immediate, helpful results.

This test measures the five characteristics of high-control groups:

  • Peer pressure and control
  • Dependency on the leadership
  • Separation from normal society
  • Use of harassment
  • Loss of identity

This is an English translation of the original Dutch questionnaire available here. It has been adapted with the help of one of the authors.


Questioning group beliefs is frowned upon.


In the group everyone is free to think independently.


The group expects complete commitment from its members.


Members help each other to focus on a higher purpose. 


The group allows open discussion of different and conflicting points of view.


There is a strong hierarchy in the group because the leaders are seen as both talented and completely dedicated.


The leaders of the group do not allow criticism. 


The leaders of the group offer intangible rewards (such as peace, happiness and eternal life) as an incentive for active commitment and dedication to the group’s ideology and polices.


The leaders say exactly how we should live and are an important source of inspiration for the members.


The leaders of the group have a special or even divine gift.


The group rejects participation in normal social activities, believing they are chosen and superior to outsiders.


Behavior which does not comply with the group's doctrines is seen as self-destructive, disloyal and/or sinful.


Members of the group have lost contact with friends and acquaintances who discouraged them from joining this group.


The group allows close contact with friends and family who are not members. 


The group puts its member-behavior policies above fundamental human rights and civil or even criminal laws. 


Members can leave without feeling guilty or fearful. 


The group excludes members who are no longer loyal.


The group’s leaders respect the members’ personal limits and boundaries.


People who leave the group are seen as weak, immoral or even satanic; maintaining contact with them is discouraged or even punished.


Those who leave the group will lose friends and family; they will disown and ignore the former member.


Members’ homes are packed with artifacts, literature and/or images that remind them of the groups’ beliefs and practices.


Group members are constantly in touch with each other, with little or no time for a private life. 


Members can grow and develop in this group, in their own way.


There is a taboo in the group against expressing your own needs.


Members have put aside their personal dreams and ambitions because of their participation in this group.

This article was compiled by the Open Minds Editorial Staff.


  1. Christi Gordon September 4, 2018 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    Great survey….its all so clear in hindsight…but unsure we could really answer objectively while still indoctrinated cuz rationalization and thought stopping would get in the way…but maybe taking it could plant some seeds…either way its good to answer honestly now. Thank you 🙂

    • Spike Robinson September 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      That’s what we thought, too, about the people not answering objectively – that even that bit of “am I *really* answering this honestly?” would plant a seed of doubt to crack that shell!

  2. Debra Dieffenbacher September 8, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    This is frustrating because it is culture based. The ideology of the group stems from a belief that if they are not in control of one aspect of employment based job description. The world will crumble and the emptiness will drive them in to madness. It takes over ever aspect of their social being. They are so immersed in it, that letting go is not an option. It is a loss of the illusion that they will never let go of. Di-spite the fact is is an illusion, is it is real to them. If never goes away because those who move away come home to die or be buried, bring with them their families who have not forgotten the world as it was.Church to them becomes a club. A place to socialize, “do God’s” work and keep the norm. The spirit has no place there. Those who try and strengthen the spirit take away the club reality. That or those person are ostracized. There is not enough of us to invoke a change and it is like a being a mouse on a wheel. No matter what you do. The group gets together and finds a way to keep you from every wanting to come near them.

  3. L. Hall November 2, 2018 at 5:21 am - Reply

    Oh, wow… I’m so glad (and simultaneously saddened) by the fact that this is referring to the group a member of my extended family has been involved with for about 20 years, despite a relatively recent public revelation about the depraved sexual & violent proclivities of the self-appointed “cherished leader”. I had known about it for 10 years but the person concerned refused to look the person up online and got angry for me even mentioning it despite having tried to get me involved/converted just before the now ex-leader was due to travel the country. [I believe there’s a documentary on YouTube called “Behind the Thangkas” if anyone is at all curious.]

    I think the saddest aspect of this person’s involvement with this group has been their cognitive decline from spending hours and hours per day “meditating”. They’ve developed a deep distrust of modern science & medicine despite having 3 tertiary degrees (one of which was in a Scientific discipline). She’ll likely be dead within the next 2-3 years, which could almost certainly been prevented had she not told her Oncology team to get lost and started to see a glib, sociopathic naturopath & put all of her “faith” in a low-pH diet and vitamin C infusions. It’s even more painful to me than the fact she was (I hope) tricked into attempting to get me to join as a teenager in order to please the almighty Guru/Leader, to be honest.

  4. Ann January 8, 2019 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    I absolutely love the information that you provide. It acts as a source of empowerment. Knowledge is power after all. Please keep up the good work that you do.

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