Mean Girls Case Study

Topics: Communication, Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan Pages: 5 (1541 words) Published: March 5, 2012
It is quite easy to pass off the study of communications as “no, duh” research, but every aspect of human communication can be further studied and explained in a way that cannot be seen from the surface. There is a name and concept that accounts for virtually all human behaviors and interactions. Careful study and observation of these behaviors can help us better understand the way people function and become more self-aware. There are some main, key concepts that can give a good basis for understanding communication, but it is a field that goes incredibly in depth and detail.

As people, we are communicating constantly, even when it is subconscious. The first proposition of communication states that one cannot NOT communicate (lecture). The signals we send, both verbal and nonverbal, are received and interpreted by those around us. Although we are unaware of every detail communicated in our own daily lives, it can be much easier to study such phenomena within pop culture examples, where it becomes very evident. The movie “Mean Girls” is the perfect subject of such a case study, where it is full of examples of the theories discussed and read about thus far in the quarter.

The two main categories that define communication are verbal and nonverbal. As discussed in class and in the book, verbal communication is literally what we say. This could also include silent verbal communication such as e-mails or texting. Non-verbal communication comprises most of what we communicate as it accounts for everything else, such as facial expressions and overall appearance.

The other side of communication is not the messages we give off, but what and how we receive messages from others. This is the listening aspect of communication and it is composed of numerous different kinds such as critical listening, pseudolistening, selective listening, selfish listening, and defensive listening. Critical listening is when you analyze the messages you receive from another. Pseudolistening is when the speaker acts like they are focused on what the speaker is saying, but in actuality they are not paying attention. Selective listening is the filtering of a message so that the listener only hears what they want, instead of hearing the speaker’s entire message. Selfish listening is when the listener only pays attentions to the speaker for selfish reasons, often dominating the conversation themselves, which is called monopolistic listening. Defensive listening is exactly what it sounds like. This is when the listener argues with the speaker and tries to, of course, defend against the message they are receiving (Real Communication).

Other key concepts include social learning theory, which has to do with gender roles (lecture). Another main concept, which is especially prevalent in “Mean Girls,” is social comparison theory. This is the theory that describes the way people compare themselves to one another and alter their behavior accordingly. Uncertainty reduction theory talks about the need partners have to reduce uncertainty within their relationships by monitoring and using proactive or indirect strategies (Real Communication).

Another concept that most are familiar with or have at least heard of is self-esteem. This has to do with how we feel about ourselves and can be affected negatively or positively by both internal and external factors (Real Communication).

In “Mean Girls,” Lindsay Lohan plays main character, Cady, a fifteen year old girl who moved from Africa to the United States. Up until the move she had always been home schooled. In her attempts to adjust to normal high school life, she befriended Damian and Janice, two of the “artsy” kids. Later on in her first day she also met the “plastics” at lunch – Regina, Gretchen, and Karen. They were the popular girls who ran things at school. Janice, who had quite a vendetta against Regina, thought it would be funny for Cady to act like a plastic too, getting the inside dirt, and exploiting...
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