Behavior in the Movie "Grease"

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The movie Grease is filled with examples of behavioral conditioning. The classic film is a good example of how all teenagers think and act. From the “cool kids” to the “outcasts,” we all fall into various roles and run wild as we play our parts.

At the beginning of the film, on the characters first day of school, Kenickie speaks of how he has been working all summer. His reason for sacrificing his summer, which most kids would not do, is to purchase a new car. This is an example of Operant conditioning. He works hard because he is aware of the result, which is a car.

The group of guys then rush off with enthusiasm to greet Danny. This display of affection is an example of Classical and Operant conditioning. The unconditioned stimulus would be that of social acceptance. Danny was originally a neutral stimulus. Through Danny’s popularity, the group of guys started seeing him as an authority of what is cool, ultimately transforming him from a neutral stimulus into a conditioned stimulus. The guys then continue on, trying to impress him in any way, which is the conditioned response. This scenario is Classical in structure, but turns Operant with the groups’ voluntary conditioned response.

In a following hallway scene, Sonny is displeased with every teacher he had assigned to him. Disgruntled, he talks of how they all flunked him in the past. This is another example of Classical conditioning. The teachers evoke involuntary feelings of failure in Sonny.

Danny and Sandy are reunited at the bonfire about a quarter of the way into the film. Upon seeing her, Danny suppresses his unconditioned response of joy and expresses a conditioned Operant response of nonchalant ridicule. He acts this way as to maintain his approved persona among the group.

During the girls’ sleepover, Rizzo ditches her group to get physical with Kenickie. This is an example of Classical conditioning. They are reacting to the unconditioned desire for sex. The unconditioned response is sex....
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