The Psychological Theories Of Emotions In Inside Out

The aim of this assignment was to investigate the psychological theories of emotions that is found within a film ‘Inside Out’(2005). Which in this case is relate to the theories that was made by Paul Ekman and Robert Plutchik’s. This statement can further be supportive through exploring and analysing the primary and secondary emotions as well as how the emotions expressed through the film.

Within this paragraph, there are both primary and secondary emotion that has been expressed in this film. Plutchik’s wheel lists multiple emotions these are all differences of the 8 basic primary emotions. Which included fear, Joy, sadness, anticipation, anger, surprise and trust. Within the scientific community it is supported that there are seven basic emotions. Every one of them with their own unique and distinctive facial expressions. The emotion that has been used in the film is very similar to the concept from Plutchik’s , however there was only five primary emotions mentioned in the film, Joy, anger, sadness, fear, disgust minus surprise, anticipation and trust as characters in Riley’s mind. Every other character in the film also shares the same emotions as humanised characters in their brain. This is clearly showing that the dictate of the film had supported Plutchik’s theory of emotions. Plutchik’s also discovered secondary emotions, secondary emotions are emotional responses that is combine with primary and secondary emotions(1). An example of this in the film is when Riley operates with fear, disgust and anger as her primary emotions, which causes her to want to run away back to her old house. Another example would be when Joy thought it was her fault that Riley is sad and losing her happiness, this part is telling us that Joy is feeling guilt because it was her fault that they ended up there with one on to control the headquarter. However this different to Plutchik’s was saying because he believed that opposite emotions cannot be experienced at the same time (2). This means that the film didn’t support this part of Plutchik’s idea.

Secondly, The way the emotions work in Inside Out is an example of the cognitive appraisal theory. This theory, also known as the Lazarus theory, states that emotion starts with the stimulus, the thought, and then the emotion. Schachter-Singer theory of emotion also known as two factor theory of emotion. It states that emotions are result of both cognitive and physiological process(3). Schachter- singer just means that instead of the brain reacting first our body tend to respond first. An example be when Reliy was face timing her best friend and she saw that her friend has new friend, Anger works the pedal on the console in this scene. Riley shows typical signs of anger by frowning, and she slams the computer shut. This would be an example of the cognitive appraisal theory in action because Riley is responding psychical response. Another example of the cognitive appraisal theory within the film is when Riley is arguing with her dad at dinner table. Dad notices that Riley is acting odd way he interprets her as “giving him sass.” Anger, in his head, says “alright, make a show of force. I’m going to have to put the foot down.” In this scene, stimulus her talking back to dad leads to an emotion (anger) and then a psychical response.

Thirdly, as the film has shown that each emotion has an important role to play in Riley including sadness because without other emotions other than Joy Riley would never have expressed her feelings. Ekman did research on facial expressions and their relationship to certain emotions are universal among people. Ekman than came to conclusion that the whole world speak and understand the same facial language meaning that facial is important (4). The emotion joy allows the body to feel a deep sense of pleasure. This emotion is what help people to keep a positive mindset, have good well-being and stay optimistic. The way the emotion Joy was portrayed in the movie was that whenever Joy was in control Riley seems to be happy. For instance, Riley always remembers her happy childhood. Joy’s responsibility is to not let Riley from experiencing negative emotions such as sadness and ensure a positive life. In the end, Joy was able to help her build her different personalities and form good relationships with her friends and family. Non of the other emotions understand what Sadness was for because all she did was ruin what joy had plan to do, and that is why in some scene Sadness had no role(5). Sadness is an emotion that something that we tend to keep that is most important to use this could loosing a loved one or in Riley’s being homesick. According to Lisa Firestone, a well-known psychologist and author sated “Sadness is a live emotion that can serve to remind us of what matters to us, what gives our life meaning” (6). As her life progresses, Sadness was able to figure out that people need to allow themselves to be upset sometimes to let it all out. By allowing Riley to be sad her parents were able to know what she feeling , allowing them to take time to focus on her and provide some much-needed comfort.

In conclusion, the above information clearly states that, Inside Out does a good job on showing the cognitive appraisal theory of emotion and of demonstrating how emotions and emotional reactions can change as a person matures and gains more life experience. It also shows how “negative” emotions, like sadness, can actually play a positive part our lives. The film has come under some examination from psychologists but many agree that it got any aspects correct however not all.  

29 April 2022
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