Conversion, a term often applied to the process of joining a religious group, became the focus of much research in the 1960s and onward when thousands of youths in America chose to participate in newer religious movements (NRMs). The term conversion is related to recruitment to various social movements and should be considered in light of this larger tradition of research.

The meaning of conversion is itself controversial. A popular view is that conversion involves a rapid and dramatic change of behavior and beliefs and that the convert’s basic personality is also modified in significant ways. Much research on NRM recruitment and topics such as denominational switching has undermined this view and instead has promoted an understanding of conversion that is more gradual and less pervasive.

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