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FILM PSYCOLOGICAL ANALYSIS

 

3 different social-psychological principles that appear to be operating in the events or individuals depicted in the film
In addition to entertaining us, movies offer detailed portrayals of human social behavior. Your task in this assignment is to analyze — from a social-psychological perspective — the behaviors and events depicted in one of the films listed below. You are not being asked to critique the film in terms of its value as a work of art or as entertainment. Rather, you should think carefully about the human actions and events portrayed in the film. Then, to make sense of this material, apply what you’ve learned this semester regarding the factors that predict and explain human social behavior. This assignment is comprehensive: We urge you to bring any/all concepts encountered in this course that relate to the issues, interactions, and behaviors portrayed.

Your assignment is to choose one of the films listed below. Most should be available at any video rental store or at many locations online. View the film you choose at least once(two viewings may offer an advantage. Then, after reviewing your notes and text, identify at least3 different social-psychological principles that appear to be operating in the events or individuals depicted in the film (e.g., cognitive dissonance, schemas, self-fulfilling prophecies, groupthink, deindividuation, conformity, realistic conflict theory, modern racism, etc.). For each principle that you identify:

(a) briefly describe the relevant scene.This should take up no more than half a page as you may assume that your reader has seen the film.

(b) describe in detail the social-psychological principle you believe is relevant. Your job here is to demonstrate that you understand the principle or theory, and that you can describe it in your own words. An occasional quote from your text or another source is fine, but for the most part, you should be conveying your knowledge without the aid of others’ words. You don’t need to do library research for this – using your text or your lecture notes as resources is fine – but remember the rules about avoiding plagiarism. Again, we need you to show us that you have a good understanding of the concept/principle. It’s best if you are specific about the principles you discuss. For example, don’t just indicate that your scene illustrates helping, or conformity, or persuasion, or aggression. Instead, indicate what specific theory, or principle or aspect of helping/conformity/persuasion/aggression, etc. that your scene illustrates.

(c) elaborate on how the selected scene illustrates the principle you have identified. It’s also acceptable to write about how a scene fails to follow predictions derived from the social-psychological principle or theory. Where possible, make reference to how your scene maps onto specific research findings (for example, describe how the scene is similar to or different from relevant experiments you’ve read in your text). ) It’s very important that you do more than simply say something like “this scene illustrates conformity.” You must be specific on precisely how and in what form the scene illustrates conformity, or how it fails to support what you learned about conformity in the class.

Remember, you must identify 3 DIFFERENT SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES that are relevant to your film. Your written analysis should be succinct and well-written (4-7 pages in APA format). Be sure to include a short (1 paragraph) introduction to orient the reader, as well as a short (1 paragraph) discussion to tie things together at the end.
Grading Rubric

Introduction (2.5 points)
Principle 1:
Scene description (3 points)
Principle description (6 points)
How scene maps onto principle (6 points)
Principle 2:
Scene description (3 points)
Principle description (6 points)
How scene maps onto principle (6 points)
Principle 3:
Scene description (3 points)
Principle description (6 points)
How scene maps onto principle (6 points)
Discussion (2.5 points)

Total of 50 points possible

IMPORTANT:
• This term paper will be due on December 5, 2012 in hardcopy form by the end of class.
• You are welcome to e-mail rough drafts of your paper to me all the way up to November 28ththfor conceptual feedback, as long as you turn in your final draft as a hard copy on time. If rough drafts are given to me after this date, I cannot guarantee that I will have time to critique them.
• If the paper is longer than 10 pages, I will stop reading it.
• If your paper contains more than 10glaring spelling or grammatical errors, I will only award you the points you have earned until that tenth error. You have plenty of resources available to assist you in your writing, including the academic success center in the UGL.
• Minimum length is not a key aspect of the grading for each section; however, be thorough and specific in both your description of the scene and the term(s) you choose.
• You *must* choose a film from this list. If you have a strong desire to do a different film, you must get approvalfrom me no later than November 14thth. Feel free to email your request.

Movie List
The Incredibles
Napoleon Dynamite
District 9
V for Vendetta
I, Robot
12 Angry Men
Remember the Titans
The Island
Gattaca
Changing Lanes
Yes Man
The Wedding Singer
Cloverfield
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
Say Anything
Fargo
Hunger Games

This excerpt was taken from a student who took the class in a previous semester. The student was writing about the movie Schindler’s List (which is not one of your options). We have provided this to you so that you get an idea of the depth of analysis that we expect for an A paper.This excerpt shows one concept (cognitive dissonance) that this student used. Remember that you need to analyze the film using 3 concepts, and that you should have a brief introduction and conclusion.

The attitude change that Oscar Schindler underwent is dramatic. At the beginning of the film, he behaved in the same way as other Nazi German officials and had no pity for the Jews, but this attitude was completely reversed at the end of the movie. Many factors might have led to this gradual yet drastic attitude change, and I will analyze the role of cognitive dissonance in causing this change. Initially, Oscar Schindler recruited Jews to his factory because he thought that the Jews provide him with cheap labor. He appointed Isaac Stern to recruit able-bodied Jews but Stern exploited his power and started to recruit the weak and elderly Jews that would have otherwise been sent to concentration camps. Eventually, Schindler became aware that his factory was nicknamed the “safe haven” for Jews.
I argue that this situation aroused cognitive dissonance—an aversive feeling that is aroused by holding two or more inconsistent cognitions (Festinger, 1957). According to Festinger, people are motivated by a desire for cognitive consistency and therefore, when discrepancy arise, people are motivated to reduce it. For example, in an experiment by Festinger and Carlsmity (1959), participants were asked to lie to a confederate that the upcoming experiment was extremely interesting. They were paid either a small or large sum of money. Participants who were paid a small sum of money experience cognitive dissonance because the hold the inconsistent cognitions of “I just said that the experiment was interesting” and “I really think the experiment was boring.” They did not have sufficient external justification because they were only paid $1 for telling the lie. To reduce the dissonance, they changed their original attitude toward the experiment and subsequently rated it as quite interesting. In contrast, participants paid a large sum of money did not experience dissonance because there was sufficient external justification ($20) for engaging in the dishonest behavior. Therefore they could add the new cognition “It is OK to tell a small lie for a lot of money” to resolve the dissonance.
Schindler’s initial behavior of employing young and able-bodied Jews did not lead to cognitive dissonance because his cognitions “Jews are inferior” and “I employ Jews” were supplemented by a third cognition “I am employing Jews to maximize my own profit”. The third cognition provided sufficient external justification, similar to what was experienced by participants in the $20 condition of Festinger and Carlsmith’s (1959) study. However, when Schindler found out that Stern had recruited the weak and the elderly into the factory to offer them shelter and protection, dissonance arose because the external justification of profit maximization no longer applied. This dissonance was made especially prominent when an one-armed elderly man went to Schindler’s office to thank Schindler for giving him a chance in the factory. Schindler was enraged and reprimanded Stern for his recruitment of handicapped and invalid “workers”. In this situation, his dissonant cognitions of “my factory houses disabled and weak Jews”, and “Jews are inferior people” were in direct confrontation. This dissonance would cause an aversive state of arousal, which could be a possible source of his anger.
When people are in a state of dissonance, the cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) suggests that people are motivated to reduce the dissonance in three ways. They could change their attitude discrepant behavior, change their original cognitions, or add consonant cognitions. To reduce the dissonance that he felt, Schindler thus could have fired all the weak employees (change behavior), reduce his prejudice toward Jews (change attitude), or find some other way to justify why housing the unproductive Jews could still be profitable (add consonant cognition). After his encounter with the one-armed elderly man, Schindler warned Stern that he should stop making the factory into a safe haven, but yet he neither fired the elderly man, nor made an effort to screen all his employees for competence and fire the unproductive ones. He might have initially tried to justify his behavior by adding the consonant cognitions that these weaker members of his workforce was still productive and profit making, as demonstrated by his exchange with Nazi officers after they have killed the one-arm elderly man, emphasizing that this man was his “essential skilled worker”. However, to claim that the disabled and slow workers were “essential” was not a strong external justification because Schindler was probably aware that the productivity of these workers could not have rivaled the younger and able-bodied workers. With the weakened external justification, Schindler ultimately resolved his dissonance by gradual attitude change. Many scenes in the film showed how he started to show more concern for the lives of the Jews. For example, he was visibly emotionally disturbed when he observed the emptying of the ghetto. Eventually, he started to use his personal wealth, such as his gold lighter and watch to “buy” lives of more Jews. At this point, it was clear that he no longer justified employing Jews as cheap labor to maximize his own profit because he was intentionally engaging in behaviors that would reduce his profit. The only motivation behind his behavior was that his prejudiced attitudes were changed and that he became genuinely concerned about the welfare of the Jews.

 

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