Undue Influence and coercive control are widespread in today’s world, and not just limited to cults. Social coercion comes in many different forms, and appears in many different facets of our lives.

Abusive partners and dysfunctional families alike exert similar control methods to those used in high-control groups. Terrorist groups, gangs and pedophile rings use the same “grooming” techniques as cult recruiters use to lure their victims. Phone and Internet scammers use the same brand of induced fear as any doomsday group preaching Armageddon.

The commercial world can be a source of undue influence. Shoppers in department stores are often bombarded with sensory input designed to hijack their reason and part them with their cash: from lighting and music (and even scents) used to create a desired atmosphere, to confuse circuitous paths designed to keep them wandering around the sales floor longer. Online shoppers may have their personal information mined – and their web searches re-directed to make them spend more.

Advertising agencies are infamous for their use of influence: they can use and misuse the methods of social influence to link commercial products to religious holidays, invent diseases in order to sell lucrative “cures”.

Undue influence is also found in smaller arenas – in workplace bullying, in schoolyard peer pressure, in neighborhood disagreements, even at the family supper table. Simply put, undue influence is everywhere. It can be in the boardroom and on our computer screens, in our schools and our homes, in advertising and political agendas, in our entertainment, our education, our news and our businesses.

Although much of the current material on this site is in the study of high-control cult-like groups, it is the methods of coercion and unethical persuasion themselves that are the focus of our interest at Open Minds. Whether the techniques of harmful manipulation are found within a cult or a family, a nation or a corporation, our goal is to expose the methods used by predators – and proof society against undue influence in all its forms.

Editor's Note: While we at OMF value all free expression of opinion, the views expressed by our contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OMF, its board members, or trustees.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Do you have a story about undue influence that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!