Social-Psychological Principles in Good Will Hunting

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Social-psychological principles in Good Will Hunting
Donna Harris
SOCI 4340

Good Will Hunting is a story about Will Hunting who works as a janitor at MIT cleaning classrooms. Will is an orphan who grew up in various foster homes and was physically abused as a child. Will is also an extraordinary mathematical genius with a photographic memory, who enjoys solving math problems. Will blames himself for his unhappy upbringing and turns this self-loathing into a form of self-sabotage in both his professional and emotional lives. Because Will blames himself he is unable to maintain a steady job or a steady relationship. Will must learn to overcome his fear of abandonment in order to learn how to trust and love people who care about him. The movie Good Will Hunting offered many examples that predict and explain human social behavior. Will is a young man that is struggling with the coming of age, his realization that he is different from his peers, and his search for guidance in life. Three social-psychological principles that appear to be operating in the events or individuals depicted in the film are cognitive dissonance, self-fulfilling prophecies, and the cause of human action.

Cognitive Dissonance
One scene from the movie that shows cognitive dissonance is when Will is talking to his friend Chucky. Will tells him about his future of living in South Boston. Chucky goes on to tell him that if in twenty years he’s (Will) still living here, coming over to his house watching the Patriot games, and working construction, he will kill him. The second scene is at the end when Sean tells will that “It’s not your fault”. Sean repeats it five more times and after the fifth time Will is sobbing in Sean’s arm saying he’s sorry.

Cognitive dissonance is uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs and self-concept, and experiencing something...
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