Eileen Barker’s aim of her study was to find out how and why people become a Moonie and join this religion.

Barker set out to do this study because at the time there was bad press and accusations of the Unification Church corrupting, kidnapping and brainwashing their members and she wanted to investigate whether the accusations were true.

What methods were used in this study?

Barker used a triangulation (multiple methods) to investigate the question on 3 different levels. Methods include:

·       Overt participant observation. Over six years Barker lived with Moonies at various centres. This was an interpersonal level.

·       In-depth interviews (36 at the start of the research) between 2 and 12 hours. This was to investigate on a personal level.

·       Questionnaires- A pilot study (sample of 20), followed by a full study of all Moonies in the UK (about 500). This was an impersonal level.

Key findings

·       Moonies attend residential courses where they are subject to carefully controlled situations. (This can exert considerable influence on many guests).

·       Distorted versions of Moonie history and activity may be given to enhance its image.

·       Converts were ‘normal’ (no special characteristics).Individuals eventually decide – ‘conversion to themovement is the result of a (limited) number ofindividual experiences; it is not the result ofmass-induced hypnosis’.

·       Moonies sometimes target individuals in different ways to influence them and manipulate what ‘resonates’ with each one.

·       She found no evidence of coercion

Barker said “I have not been persuaded that they are brainwashed


Research Methods




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