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Psychology Principles in the Breakfast Club Essay

A “quintessential 80’s movie,” The Breakfast Club is a film rich with psychological principles. This movie is about a group of high school teenagers filled with personal angst who spend a Saturday serving their detention sentences in the school library. Each teenager from a different clique, they didn’t expect to relate as much to each other as they thought. As they begin to get to know each other, the vengeful assistant principal Vernon starts to single out Bender, the rebel of the group of teenagers. Initially, none of the other teenagers help Bender.

This demonstrates the bystander effect because they don’t help Bender; this effect can be explained by the absence of group membership and cohesiveness because the 5 strangers don’t really know each other yet. But when assistant principal Vernon locks Bender in a closet, the group has already established trustworthy relationships among its members, so they decide to help Bender escape. Also, assistant principal Vernon debatably exhibited deindividuation when he proceeded to threaten Bender and to lock him inside a closet.

Normally, an assistant principal of a high school wouldn’t speak cruelly or do such things to a student, but because of the situation (their history together and how Bender always seemed to have won), Vernon acts this way. Finally, each teenager demonstrated conformity in his/her own way.

Bender covered up his scars from the abuse he received from his dad so that he wouldn’t be judged as weak for them; Andy, the jock, covered up his hatred for his father because he didn’t want to be seen as abnormal; Brian, the geek, contemplated suicide but never told anyone because he didn’t want to be perceived as depressed; Allison, the outcast, lies compulsively because she has to keep up a reputation she has created; and Claire, the popular girl, hides the fact that she is still a virgin because all of her friends are not virgins and she doesn’t want to be considered strange.

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