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: you are urged to bring any/all concepts encountered in this course that relate to the issues, interactions, and behaviors portrayed.

• Choose one of the five films listed here.
• All films are accessible through various free streaming platforms or cable services. You only need to be able to access one.

BlacKkKlansman (2018; R)
Sing Street (2016; PG-13)
Queen of Katwe (2016; G)
Mean Girls (2004, PG-13)
12 Angry Men (1957 OR 1997 remake, PG-13)

• You should view the film at least once (two viewings may offer an advantage).
• Identify 3 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, factors that increase conformity, judgmental heuristics, instrumental aggression, modern racism, etc.).
• For each principle that you identify:
o briefly describe the relevant scene (you may assume that I, as your reader, have seen the film).
o 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.
o 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 are fine – but remember the rules about avoiding plagiarism!
o Again, you need to show me 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, conformity, persuasion, or aggression. Instead, indicate what specific theory, principle, or aspect of helping/conformity/persuasion/aggression, etc. that your scene illustrates.
o elaborate on how the selected scene illustrates the principle you have identified. It’s also ok to write about how a scene might fail to follow predictions derived from the social-psychological principle or theory.
o 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 or heard about). 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 class.

• You must identify 3 DIFFERENT SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES that are relevant to your film.
• Your written analysis should be succinct and well-written (5-6 pages).
• Be sure to include a short Introduction to orient the reader, as well as a short Discussion to tie things together. Grading guidelines are shown on the next page.

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