Is it possible to identify specific familial patterns as antecedents of adult membership in new religious movements? Can the choice of an NRM be predicted by the childhood experiences of individuals joining such movements? This international literature review seeks to answer these questions, investigating the assumption that early family experiences affect adults' decisions to join NRMs. It includes empirical studies that have been written in English, German and French since 1970, and gives an overview of findings on childhood family structures, including parents and siblings, as well as early family relationships and atmospheres. On the whole, the studies from different countries and decades support the hypothesis that early family experiences have an impact on adult membership in NRMs. However, it seems that individuals with different early experiences are attracted to different kinds of groups. Whereas many studies found problematic family backgrounds and absent fathers in converts' biographies, suggesting a compensatory function of membership, some point to a continuation or restoration of early experiences. More interdisciplinary comparative research on NRMs is needed to gain a better understanding of the psychodynamic processes and psychological offers of different groups.
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