Inside Out: Psych Film Analysis

Spencer Morphis // A-4

Concepts Presented

  • Long Term Memory: Refers to the infinite capacity of information that your memory can store up to an entire lifetime.
  • Flashbulb Memory: Very explicit, long lasting memories about a personal experience that can be trigged by a surprising or detrimental experience.
  • Forgetting: Refers to the loss of information from an individuals memory.
  • Belonging: The feeling of being accepted within a group of people or any situation.
  • Universal Emotions: The 6 main emotions that we feel.
  • Humanistic Theory of Motivation: How are we motivated? You'll find out below!

Universal Emotions: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, Disgust ........................................AND SUPRISE...................................

5 of the 6 universal emotions were represented throughout the film Inside Out. They were located in the "Headquarters" inside Riley's brain. All of the emotions play a role in her life. Joy causes many happy memories such as being goofy with her father. She has memories of anger from when she got in a fight with her family at the dinner table. She has fearful memories of her grandmothers vacuum. The emotion Disgust plays a role when she didn't want to eat her broccoli, and sadness plays a role as an emotion when she missed a game winning goal in her hockey game.

Joy represents the leader of the emotions because their main goal is to keep Riley happy. Anger, Fear, and Disgust have smaller roles for Riley but they are still needed. Sadness seems to wander around all by herself and doesn't really fit in. Throughout the movie the emotions have to work together to get Riley to stay in San Fransisco and not run away. Sadness ends up being the one who saves the day, so in conclusion all of our emotions, whether they seem good or bad, play a role in making us who we are. That brings me to the last emotion of surprise that wasn't displayed by a character in Inside Out. Nobody thought that Sadness would be the emotion that make everything work out but it was. So looking at it through this, it created a sense of surprise within me and probably others who watched the film too.

What I've learned here relates to what I have learned in Psychology class through the Sociocultural Levels of Analysis. Principle 1 states "Humans are social animals and thus have the need to Belong." This is evident within Riley because she didn't fit in at her new school and wanted to 'belong' back in Minnesota where her heart was. Also, the emotion Sadness felt the need to belong throughout the film and eventually reached that feeling.

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Long Term Memory

In the film, Long Term Memory plays a big role because Joy and Sadness have to travel through it to find their way back to headquarters. The long term memories are kept in little round glass balls and stored like a maze throughout Riley's memory. They begin as short term memories that are kept in headquarters, but when Riley closes here eyes and goes to sleep, those memories are sent to long term memory. “That's Long Term Memory. You could get lost in there! This is a quote from Sadness when she and Joy were traveling back to headquarters.

Long Term Memory is a very important quality. It allows you to store and recall information from years past and access them. Although our long term memory is amazingly vast, it can actually decay over a long period of time. In the film, The long term memory is filled with so many little balls of memories. This is a very good representation of our own memories. We have so many memories beginning as little kids all the way up to today. Our long term memory builds up everyday just like Riley's did when she went to sleep at night.

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Flashbulb Memory

In Inside Out, Riley had a set of around 10 specific core memories that made up who she was. Her core memories glowed much brighter than regular memories. They stayed up in headquarters in a round container because they were very important. Those memories were her most special memories, that she could recall at any given moment. One was when Riley scored her first goal in Hockey with her mom and dad, and another being the time Riley and her best friend Meg are playing together in their young years. These memories that Riley has made were very vivid in her mind and when she needed some Joy in her life, she would recall one of these core memories to make her happy.

We discussed Flashbulb during junior year in Mrs. Jones IB Psychology class. I recall doing a project where we interviewed our parents to see what certain flashbulb memories they had. A few big ones were, 9/11, the Challenger explosion, and when my mother got married. Those memories are very vivid to my mother and she can recall even the smallest details about those events.
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Long term memories were stored all over the place in Inside Out. Small little workers with a vacuum like structure walked around the long term memories looking for degraded memories. Some of the long term memories had a loss of color, so that meant the memory was fading away from Riley. These memories were then taken away and thrown into the Memory dump. After being tossed into the dump they eventually turned into dust an were completely forgotten. Joy and Bing Bong happened to fall into the pit but with the help of their wagon rocket that ran off song power, Joy was able to make it back up to headquarters.

According to The Human Memory, forgetting happens when formerly strengthened synaptic connections between neurons in the network become very weak. This also can occur when a new network is activated and takes over a for an old one. So, in conclusion Inside Out showed a quality representation of how forgetting actually occurs in the brain.

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Throughout the film, you could clearly see how some emotions felt as if they didn't fit in as much as the others, especially Sadness. It seemed while all of the other emotions were around the control desk, Sadness was alone in a corner sitting by herself. Every time Sadness touched a memory bulb, it would turn the memory from a joyful memory into a sad memory which made the rest of the emotions mad. When Joy and Sadness found themselves outside of headquarters, they have to put their differences aside and work together to get back. In the end, Sadness was the key to stopping Riley from leaving her parents and going back to Minnesota. With this event, Sadness found her place with the rest of the emotions.
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Humanistic Theory of Motivation

This theory of motivation is based off of the idea that substantial cognitive reasons to carry out specific actions. It states that individuals are motivated to feel their needs of safety, family, love, etc. This theory is displayed in the film through two examples. The first being when Riley is having a conversation with her mother when they had recently moved to their new home in San Francisco. Riley had been really sad but her mother kept saying "Just do it for your father," so this showed how Riley was motivated based off her love for her family. Also, Joy was motivated to get the core memories back to Headquarters because she loved RIley. This motivation caused her to try everything in her power to eventually get back to headquarters.
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