Review of the Movie the Breakfast Club

In the film The Breakfast Club there are various social psychological theories and concepts that describe the inner selves of the characters. The characters in the film are initially perceived in a certain manner by each other because of knowing the way they behave in school and the type of people and environment they surround themselves with in school.

However one detention on a Saturday brings these characters together and throughout the film their true personalities and behaviors start to reveal themselves by means of social psychological theories and concepts. The characters individually and as a group display their personalities through theories and concepts of social psychology. At the very start of the film, one of the concepts displayed is the acceptance type of conformity. The principal assigns the characters (students) to complete a task and because he is a figure of authority, the characters accept having to complete the task by the end of the day without any attempts to alter that. One of the students, Claire Standish, is revealed to display the concept of narcissism, which is unfortunately a dark side of herself. This is evident as Claire claims that she is popular and loved by her fellow schoolmates and seems to care and showcase her rich and beauty too much. She is, as her detention-mates discover, full of herself. In addition this also shows signs of the spotlight effect theory which can relate to Claire in that she believes that her schoolmates look at her and pay so much attention to her appearance add rich, spoiled-like behavior.

Another character to show a theory of social psychology is Allison Reynolds. In the film, Allison is a character with an introvert personality, although she also displays strange and out-of-the-ordinary-actions. However, truth, she is a troubled person who feels that she never receives any attention from anyone and feels neglected, especially by her parents. Due to this, she expects others to be able to interpret why she acts the way she acts (strange, awkward, out-of-the-ordinary) when in fact people are not able to fully understand or interpret her emotions. The theory of illusion of transparency can be applied to Allison here.

Another character, Andrew Clark, displays the theory of self-fulfilling prophecy. It is revealed that Andrew is expected to be a great and exceptional athlete by his dad. In addition to that, Andrew is expected to be aggressive and overpowering over his opponents which contribute to his behavior toward others. As a group, the characters all display the concept of learned helplessness. It is revealed that each of the characters have problems and issues with their parents and because of their parents, they are faced with bad, repeated events which they have no control over. For Claire, her parents are rich and spoil her and as such she has to behave like them as they set an example for her. Due to this she has also grown popularity in her school where she sees herself as the center of attention. For Allison, her parents do not provide any attention to her and do not care for the way she behaves. As such, Allison mentally deals with the loneliness and lack of attention which makes her behave oddly and out-of-the-ordinary. As for Andrew, his dad has high expectations of him as a wrestler and goes as far as approving his aggressive and unethical actions. Andrew however does not believe his actions are justified and feels pressured by his father. Meanwhile Brian Johnson’s parents put too much academic pressure on him and expect him to over-exceed in his own capabilities. The pressure is revealed by him to be too much for him and as such he has breakdowns.

Finally John does not have a good relationship with his parents as they are apparently ruthless and non-caring (as described by him). In addition it’s apparent that John is abused by his parents emotionally and physically. In addition to learned helplessness, as a group these characters are very much related to representative heuristic. These characters, from the very start of the film, behave a certain way and also appeal physically in a certain way, which labels them as part of a clique. Allison, known as the princess, appears to be spoiled and full of herself, which immediately labels her as being part of the popular group in school. Meanwhile Allison displays herself as an introvert and strange, odd person which means she’s not part of a group, but more of a loner.

Clark is shown to be a jock and aggressive which shows him to be part of a wrestling and rough group. Brian is an intelligent person who comes off to the others as studious, which shows him to be part of a “nerd” group (As John puts it). Finally, John initially comes off to the group as the “badass” type of person who lives life dangerously. As such, he is labeled to be a criminal and part of bad or even gang-type, groups. Going back to the way their parents are, the group comes to a realization toward the end of the film, which relates to the theory of possible selves. In this theory, the group dreads the future that might be awaiting them, which is to become what their parents are. It’s evident that they do have their issues and concerns with their parents and do not like they what they are and as such dread becoming just like them.

Finally the looking-glass self theory is respresented by everyone in The Breakfast Club. The way each character behaves and physically appears has people perceive them in a certain way that correlations to how they behave and look like. As such, that is a mirror for how they perceive their own selves, when in truth they are not really what they appear to be. Claire is perceived to be popular, rich and spoiled and she behaves and appears as such however she does not like that about her and in fact hates being seen as a rich, spoiled person. Allison is perceived to be a loner and odd girl who keeps to herself. However she really just wants attention as she is neglected by her own parents at home. Andrew is perceived to be a jock and rough person who is really competitive as a wrestler. However he is actually pressured to be aggressive and competitive by his father, which he does not accept or like. Brian is perceived to be a genius, confident and nerdy person. However he is in fact pressured by his parents to exceed in school and do more than what he is capable of doing. As such, he breaks down when he gets bad grades which is a disappointment to his parents. Lastly, John is perceived to be a cold, “badass”, gangster type of person who harasses people with regret or remorse. However he behaves this way because his parents are abusive to him and treat him disgustingly. To cope with this, John behaves coldly.

In The Breakfast Club various social psychological theories and concepts are demonstrated by the characters through the way they reveal their behaviors and inner selves.

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