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Social Psychology

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.
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