on the signer.  What, if any, effects did the circumstances and conditions
produce?  What has subsequently transpired?

The most frequent situations in which the issue of undue influence is
raised are in the obtaining a signatures to wills and the signing of
documents transferring money and property.

As Nievod (1992) noted, courts will consider at least six factors
influencing the signing of legal documents:  the state of mind, the
"freedom of will" of the signer of a contract or will, the imbalances of
power or the unfairness shown to a weaker party in the transaction, the
lack of independent advice, the susceptibility of the weaker party to the
importuning of the stronger, and a lack of time on the part of the signer
to reflect and consider the consequences of all actions.

In addition, four sets of factors are crucial to consider in such cases.
Those investigating a purported undue influence situation need to (1)
evaluate the mental and physical condition of the signer, including
psychiatric, psychological, and neuropsychological assessments of the
person; (2) be cognizant of general social influence techniques (Cialdini,
1984); (3) be aware of brainwashing tactics, thought reform programs,
and various systematic manipulation programs (Boulette & Andersen,
1986;  Lifton, 1961, 1989;  Ofshe & Singer, 1986;  Schein, 1961;  Singer,
1987;  Singer and Addis, 1992;  Singer & Ofshe, 1980, 1990); and (4)
be aware of responses and behavior found in other high-control, intense
influence situations ranging from the Stockholm syndrome to abused
women and the influence of caretakers on their charges (Fulton, 1987;
Graham & Rawlings, 1991;  McGuire & Norton, 1988;  Nash, 1976;
Strassman, Thaler, & Schein, 1956;  Strentz, 1980;  Ursano, 1981;
Ursano, Boysun, & Wheatley, 1981).  The investigator should consult
with experts in the just cited fields of social and psychological influence
about what to look for in the way of documents and observers.  The
latter can be of great usefulness in reconstructing what was occurring at
or near the point of signing and may provide invaluable information
about relevant conditions.  These experts may have suggestions about
whom to interview and whom to have examine the victim of the undue
influence (if the person is still living - for often the maker of the will
is deceased).
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1993