Why Radicals Win the Newsday?: Ratcheting-up of Cultural Counterintuitiveness in Rumors and NRM Doctrine


Culturally counterintuitive concepts are ideas that violate a small number of justifiable expectations raised by shared beliefs of a group of people. Previous studies have shown that ideas that violate a small number of expectations are better remembered by people than ideas that conform to their expectations or ideas that violate a large number of people’s expectations. However, as counterintuitive ideas become embedded in a group’s belief-system they lose their memorability advantages and must change to regain those advantages. This article presents two case studies conducted to better understand the dynamics of the diffusion of information. It outlines how a cognition and culture approach can help us understand cultural dynamics and offers new insights into rumor diffusion and new religious movement splits.

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