Langone writes that cults "need not be religious in nature but may be psychotherapeutic, political, or commercial". He presents three different models for conversion and then describes his own integrative model. The deliberative model states that people are said to join cults primarily because of how they view a particular group. Langone notes that this view is most favored among sociologists and religious scholars, the "psychodynamic model", popular with some mental health professionals, individuals choose to join for fulfillment of subconscious psychological needs, and the "thought reform model" states that people do not join because of their own psychological needs, but because of the group's influence through forms of psychological manipulation.
Langone is a proponent of the theory of mind control. Anson Shupe and Susan Darnell describe the AFF, headed by Michael Langone as offering the most public support for the mind-control theory through its Cultic Studies Journal, a theory that Shupe questions .
Cults: What Parents Should Know: A Practical Guide to Help Parents With Children in Destructive Groups, Ross and Langone, 1989, ISBN 0-8184-0511-2
Captive Hearts, Captive Minds: Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships, by Madeleine Landau Tobias, Janja Lalich, Michael Langone, 1994, ISBN 0-89793-144-0, ISBN 978-0-89793-144-1