Kung Fu Panda in the Eye Of a Social Psychologist Essay Example
Kung Fu Panda in the Eye Of a Social Psychologist Essay Example

Kung Fu Panda in the Eye Of a Social Psychologist Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (1010 words)
  • Published: July 19, 2016
  • Type: Film Analysis
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Movies enact realistic social situations and serve as social learning tools, especially animated ones that are being consumed by both young and adult audiences. The movie that will be discussed in this paper is "Kung Fu Panda". First theory that will be introduced in this paper analyzes social groups, which exist when two or more persons interact with one another, share common goals, are interdependent to some extent and recognize that they belong to a group, as defined by Paulus (1989).

The group presented in "Kung Fu Panda" movie is "The awesome five" – warriors who live in training temple and follow common goal of being the best defendants to their land and eventually making it to become "the dragon warrior" – a desired respectful title of the one who is destined to fight against the


mutual enemy when the time comes. The group of "the awesome five" provides for its members rather high status and prestige, the roles of the members have been gradually acquired through years of training and according to the unique talents of each.

Group's norms require total adherence in order to maintain membership and group's appreciation. The group is distinguished by quite high cohesiveness, which is characterized by a combination of few features. First of all - status within the group is very high in this specific case since every member is a high status member. Secondly, the effort required to gain entry to the group is enormous and almost impossible, the group is a closed one with no willingness to accept new members.

In addition, the group has been formed in order to confront

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severe external threat – Tai Long – a rebel warrior who threatens to exterminate nearby villages. This factor plays an important role in members' commitment to the group. And last but not least – the group is a very small one – only 5 personages. All of the above reinforces the cohesiveness of the group. So, after being spontaneously assigned as a member of a highly desired group, Panda faces few challenges.

First of which (starts at 24:15") requires performing kung fu skills (which he doesn’t yet possess) in front of the members of the group. According to "The drive theory of social facilitation" (Zajonc, 1965), the presence of others increases arousal and this in turn increases the tendency to perform dominant responses – enhanced correct ones if the dominant responses are correct and impaired ones when the skills are not sufficient for performing the task.

Thus, Panda who is forced to perform some fighting skills in front of others, is aroused by their presence and therefore even in the easiest task (which is believed to be the "kids" one) he fails, since his dominant response is unskilled and at the time of being aroused by the presence of others – it is reinforced – to the incorrect side. Needless to say, poor Panda suffers from severe prejudice and discrimination, both from being a new group member who didn’t gain consensus regarding the justification and also simply based on his bodyweight (e. g. , Brown, 1998).

A we can see both in study of Brown and in the movie, prejudice is both real and damaging therefore ways to overcome it will be explored and

analyzed further on. But meanwhile, other reasons for prejudice than overweight should be presented and discussed. It is believed that many of prejudice cases take their origins in "survival competition" explored in detail in realistic conflict theory (e. g., Bobo, 1983), which claims that prejudice stems from competition over valued opportunities, such as "being chosen as 'the dragon warrior' by the master', in discussed movie.

Of his presence in the group. Another explanation to the occurrence of prejudice is social categorization diving the sides into "us" vs. "them", or "in-group" and "out-group" people, when the "in-group" ones are believed to possess more similar values and traits to one another, while "out-group" persons are perceived as negatively different.

But as every good movie, Kung Fu Panda, of course, doesn’t leave the matters in such an unfortunate state and presents a wonderful solution in few dimensions – one for viewers – social learning, which presents the Panda in a positive light and helps children accept the other, different as he is, into their "in-group" and grow up less prejudiced.

And second dimension is the one employed to the "real" situation in the movie, where the members of the group experienced "contact hypothesis" – an increased contact with the "outsider" Panda, a process described in study of Pettigrew (1981). Since this contact proceeded under certain conditions, it served to correct he stereotype activated and helped recategorize Panda from "out-group" to "in-group". The conditions working for decreasing prejudice (e. g. , (Aronson, Bridgeman, &Geffner, 1978; Schwarzwald, Amir, &Crain, 1992) contain equality

in social status ("the awesome five" and Panda were elevated to the same status

during those events), the contact between them involved dependence and interdependence (they were told by authority that only cooperation will help them all together defeat the evil warrior and they had to train all together), the contact permitted them to know each other as individuals (they communicated quite a lot and got to know personal traits of each other), there were norms favoring group equality (once the master insisted on Panda being the dragon warrior – he received the status of equal), they might have viewed one another as typical of their respective group, but we will never know that for sure.

The idea of recategorization was proposed by Gaertner and his colleagues (1989, 1993b) and suggests that shifting the boundary of someone who belonged to "out-group" in favor or "in-group" causes the member to be viewed as belonging to the group. This theory is known as common in-group identity model and according to it, the claim can be made that after a crucial factor occurred – the members of the "awesome five" and Panda experienced working together cooperatively towards shared goal (defeating the terrible Tai Long evil warrior) – initial "us-terms" for the in-group members started weakening until they vanished completely which caused reduction in prejudice and viewing one another as a single social entity.

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