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Movies and Psychology

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Elle is the sorority president and Miss Hawaii and calendar girl in campus. She also has a perfect East Coast, blue blood and wealthy boyfriend (Warner Huntington) to go with all her fame and glamour. In the story, Warner fears that his snooty family and friends may never accept, Elle, the bubble-head girl that is less of a serious figure for his future career in law. This stereotyping in the film and creation of mental schemas about Elle’s blonde nature is a clear display of social cognition and the related theory of schema at play. As a result of the fears Warner dumps Elle before going to law school at Harvard, purely because of prejudice and stereotyping. According to the schema theory under social cognition, when an individual thinks or sees a mental concept its representation or schema is activated and this brings to mind other information connected to the original concept. This unconscious happenings lead to judgments beyond readily available information and may influence behavior-as in the case of Warner dumping Elle. In the movie’s case seeing a blonde lady, brings to mind a bubble-head, lack of seriousness and a less formal appearance and nature-which may not be true as proved within the movie. As the plot unfold, a determined Elle works hard to gain entry into law school to fight for her boy friend. In the process she disapproves many and the stereotype held about her disappears when she even succeeds better than Warner at law school. Thus despite her tanning, make up and general blonde nature, she is no dummy as stereotyped and soon people learn that after being contact long enough with her in order to learn her true nature. This also brings to light another social cognition theory of contact catharsis-a theory that stipulates that prejudices and stereotypes are overcome after people stay long enough in contact and equal terms to dispel the created mental schemas (Luketic, n.pag). The movie 12 Angry Men is a good example of work that shows several social theories at work. The compelling and tense piece of work features a panel of jurors that has to reach a verdict on the innocence of guilt of an accused murderer. In the first instance, eleven of them vote guilty. But after a gradual heated debate, the jurors are again swayed to the opposite decision. Closer examination of the jury’s behavior shows that social psychology theories in areas of group process, attitude change and conformity may be at play in the change of minds. The movie portrays the power of normative social influence and informational social influence. Informational social influence holds that people conform because of their belief that the interpretations of others in situations with ambiguity may be more valid or salient than their own. On the other hand, normative social influence theorizes the cause of individual conformity as a result of fearing the possibility of appearing deviant. Informational social influence theory manifests when the judgment of the opposite reasoning and interpretation leads to a sway in the votes. Attitude and persuasion change is also evident in the storyline, where decisions are influenced to change. Persuasion prior to voting plays a significant role the 12 Angry Men and therefore it can be conclusively stated that persuasion plays great role within the plot of the movie. One of the characters (Fonda) appeals for the innocence of the accused through a well thought and elucidated way in