Cognitive Dissonance In The Film Crash

Categories: Film Analysis

When I watched the movie Crash for the first time in 2005. I like it but I have never watch it with a different perspective view or what the movie wants to present to us. The film describe different stories in how they engaged each characters through their lives, and how they jump to conclusions based on race and discrimination that lead to conflicts. Watching for the second time the film, it make me realized how we as humans from different race , culture, education, language and ethnicity can crash into each other without noticing what we are doing it.

The movie describe all the differents aspects and concepts of social psychology and how their life can be affected.

Fundamental Attribution Error

Fundamental Attribution Error describe when we jump to a conclusion or judge based on people’s behavior or look. After Jean and her husband Rick had an experience of carjacking. Jane’s schema start having racial prejudice and escalating after the carjacking.

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Jean asked her husband Rick to change the locks again because the locksmith had tattoos everywhere on his body, and she assume that he is a gang member, and he will sell the keys of her house to his friends. Her behavior shows that she stereotypes a group of people where she believes the African american and Hispanics people are dangerous just because what happened to her. Without knowing the locksmith is a good man. Another scene, rockie officer Hanson was facing experiences of racism with his partner. Hanson was trying to be fair with all people of different races and ethnicities that he met, but when he pick up a hitchhiker and after Peter starts making fun of officer Hanson.

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That’s when officer Hanson in his subconscious start judging Pete in the way he looks and being in the car with a Black african American that this ended up in a tragedy where shoots Peter Waters and killed him because he guessed the Peter was going to take out a gun out of his pocket.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy can be defined as a situation where our predictions of an event can come true based on behavior or assumptions. At the beginning of the movie Antony comment to Peter of the bad service of the waitress she has given them just because she knows that black people do not give tips even though the waitress was black. Pete asks Antony how much he left her for a tip, and he says nothing because of the bad service. Here clearly shows a self-fulfilling prophecy. Antony with his act and false prediction confirms what he says. In another scene Jen and her husband walk down the street and she sees two blacks men Antony and Pete. Immediately she clings to her husband, and this action is perceived by them and because of her action she provoked the response of Antony and Pete by stealing from them.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the sensation of discomfort that occurs when there is a conflict between what I think and what I do. In one of the scene occurs cognitive dissonance when Detective Waters for cleaning his brother criminal record. He has to drop the investigation of the white detective who has a history of shooting three black men and one of them where found money involved in narc. Next scene,When Anthony and Peter who assaulted a couple and took away their car and then ran over a person, they new they hit the guy and he was still under the car Antony was dealing with cognitive dissonance because he was torn between leaving the man under the car or help and take him out from under the car. Antony’s action reduce this dissonance so he chooses to leave the man on the curb at the hospital. Cameron and Cristina got pulled over. Cristina got sexual harassed from officer John Ryan when her husband sees that and he doesn’t say anything. After this bad experience Cristina had to deal with cognitive dissonance but when she got in a bad car accident and the police officer John Ryan was trying to save her. Even Though Cristina didn't want him to save her. She had to trust him to survive.

Informational Social Influence & Normative Social Influence

In the film Crash,conformity is one of the social influence that affected the characters where their behaviour changes due to the influence of others in order to be accepted in the society and in their daily lives. One scene shows two differents conformities. One is informational social influence where Officer Hansen feels shameless for the racist behaviour his partner Ray had against Cameron and his wife, Here Ransen request to his lieutenant that he doesn't want to ride with Ray in the same car. The lieutenant make him fill a report where he should say he has a flatulence problems so that will be the reason he needs to ride alone instead to fill a false report and taking the risk of everybody jobs. Here Ransen’s informational influence is when the lieutenant help him what to do and he goes with that. The other example of conformity is normative social Influence. Here Cameron a director TV redo a scene after he was being told from his producer Ted that one of his actors (a black man) was talking differently. He wasn’t talking as a black person that they wanted for this scene. Here Cameron accepted what his boss wanted because he wants to be accepted or fit in the group of white people.

Frustration- aggression & Altruism

Crash is the movie where you can see realistic negatives emotions caused by frustration based on racial and ethnicity inequality. Farhad the iranian/Persian (Shaub Toub) who is the owner of a small store. It was robbed and vandalized from people who think that he and his family are terrorist. After this, Farhad hire a locksmith spanish man to fix the lock but because the issue wasn’t the lock if not the door. Farhad uses his verbal aggressiveness,angriness and frustrated towards the locksmith. In this scene Fargad also shows his own prejudiceness towards others races because the way he was treated bad by several americans too. In this scene Daniel uses altruism behaviour after Farhad was aggressive and offensive against him. Daniel decided that Farhad would not pay him anything besides that he already put a new lock. Daniel try to avoid the distress of Farhad even though he knew that he was not going to get paid for the service. Another example of this frustration is when the day Jane was carjacked, she starts taking her anger out on her husband Rick, Maria and the locksmith judging him that he belongs to gang member because of his clothes and tattoos . Another scene, the officer Ryan gets mad at Shaneque the insurance supervisor because his dad is sick and she doesn’t want to help them. The way he gets rid off his anger is using his offensive racial comments against her and then takes it out on Christine Thayer and assault her sexually.

Negative Reinforcement

Detective Graham and his mother respond situations with negative reinforcement. They experience something negative in the environment that they want to get rid off in a negative way. For example, Graham’s mom lives by herself she is going through differents emotions and depression for not having her young son living with her so she reverted back to her drug addiction so she wouldn’t feel sadness and pain anymore. Detective Granhan has a mother who is a drug addict and his brother is a thief. As a result of this, he has distanced himself from them because this can jeopardizes his credibility as a law officer. The negative reinforcement that they apply is more for avoiding or discomforting that they are having in their lives.

In conclusion, the film Crash describe how in certains situations people under pressure can act and behave in differents ways. It doesn't matter where you are coming from. We make judgements, stereotypes , prejudice and discriminate against people around us because we all react to situations we experience on daily bases sometimes in very negative ways.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Cognitive Dissonance In The Film Crash. (2024, Feb 10). Retrieved from

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