Seeing Red: A Social- Psychological Analysis of the Rajneeshpuram Conflict

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The commune of Rajneeshpuram, Oregon (1981-1985) provided for a naturalistic, social- psychological study of intergroup conflict - between the Rajneeshees and other groups. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected on the Rajneeshees and on Oregon residents’ attitudes toward them. The prevailing attitude was overwhelmingly negative. The public’s perceptions of and reactions to the Rajneeshees can be understood in terms of a dynamic social-cognitive process. The psychological concepts of schema, level of abstraction, and stress and coping mechanisms are useful in explaining the public’s strong opinion. The construct of "moral exclusion” is of utility in understanding the Rajneeshees’ attitudes and hostile actions. This conflict provided a unique opportunity to analyze how beliefs and tactics interact with socialcognitive processes throughout the conflict dynamic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-271
Number of pages15
JournalSociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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