Inside Out Film Analysis

Gretchen Sherrill A4

Inside Out vs Psychology

The Pixar movie "Inside Out" shows how a young girl named Riley has emotions and memories. There are 5 main characters, and those are Riley's emotions. The emotions include: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear. Throughout this Smore, I will discuss how the movie portrayed certain parts of a person's memory and how that compares to the way it is done in real life.
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Sleep & Long Term Memory

When Riley goes to sleep, "Dream Productions" is in charge of acting out the dreams that she has. They take events that happened throughout the day, and turn them into a dream that could involve other made up components. This is similar to real life because, for instance, sometimes when a person watches a scary movie before they go to sleep, they will have a nightmare because of their memory of the scary movie from that day. This type of scenario was shown in the movie; instead of a scary movie, it was Riley's first day of school in San Fransisco. Also while she is asleep, the memories that Riley made during the day are transferred into long-term storage. The circadian timing system uses a group of nerve cells in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, to act as a clock. The clock has a 24 hour cycle which lets the body know when to do activities such as sleep and release hormones.
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Long Term Memory

In the movie, long term memories were represented in the marble objects, that sat on shelves. Each memory was a different color, depending on what emotion Riley views the memory as. According to, "Long-term memory refers to the storage of information over an extended period." Riley’s core memories were out in a separate location on separate shelves because they were more important because they represented who she was. These core memories were apart of her long-term memories because since they made up her personality, even after her personality changed and those core memories became sad, she would never forget them. For a memory to be considered, "long term" it has to be a memory that you can recall that has happened more than a few moments ago. In the movie, these were put on shelves and kept for Riley to retrieve them at any time.
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Flashbulb Memories

According to David White on "Flashbulb Memory in Psychology" flashbulb memories are memories of learning about something that is so shocking that it creates a vivid memory about what you were doing during the event, not the actual event itself. A majority of flashbulb memories are associated with a negative memory. An example of this in the movie is when every time Riley remembers losing the playoff game for her hockey team, she remembers feeling very sad, until her teammates come and cheer her up. A majority of flashbulb memories are associated with a negative memory. All of Riley’s memories were a certain color depending on which emotion she sees them as. While the core memories first start out as joyful memories, they end up being turned to sad memories because the are of the past. Whether more joyful or sad, Riley will always associate losing the playoff hockey game with being sad but her parents and teammates cheering her up.
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The memory marbles slowly become less colorful and finally turn grey as they get older, insinuating that they are about to be forgotten forever. Once forgotten, they are sent to the “memory dump” where they will vanish forever. This part in the movie refers to the decay theory of forgetting, which says that over time, a person will have total loss certain information. Psychologists, however, think that forgetting is more temporary rather than permanent. There has been research to show that while certain information can't be recalled just because someone wants to recall it, there's still some evidence of knowing the information. Forgotten memories can be retrieved by a relative event triggering a person to recall a memory.

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In the movie, there are 5 different emotions represented, but one of them was clearly in control: Joy. She was overall the most knowledgeable about what to do when situations with Riley got out of hand. The emotion that felt the most out of place is Sadness. She feels out of place because she feels that she has ruined Riley and that everything she does just makes Riley sadder and that she cannot help her in any way. It isn't until the end that Sadness starts to feel like she belongs in the group. This is because at the end of the movie, Joy realizes that sometimes it is okay to be sad and that you need to be sad in order to be happy again. Once Joy realizes this, she tells Sadness that she is the only one who can help Riley be happy again and because of this, Sadness has a new sense of belonging in the group. The benefits of feeling like you belong in a group is that you are comfortable and you feel as though you have a place and that you are needed. When a person doesn't feel as though they belong, similar to Sadness, they may feel useless. This can lead to depression (ironic, since Sadness is always sad).
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During the movie, Joy and Sadness get lost outside of headquarters and they have to find their way back, in order to make things right with Riley again. Joy is very concerned with Riley's happiness, and this motivates her to make sure that she gets back to headquarters before anything seriously bad happens to Riley. A study was done by a psychologist named Frederick Herzberg in the 1950's called the Two-Factor Theory of Motivation. He analyzed 200 different accountants and engineers who were asked about their feelings about work. By conducting this experiment, he found that 2 different components go into motivation. The first is motivating factors which are simply factors that could lead towards satisfaction and that could motivate employees to work harder. The second component was hygiene factors which are factors that can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation. These factors can be things such as company policies and relationships with managers or co-workers. This can relate to Joy because she was motivated to work harder and get back to headquarters by knowing that Riley could be in trouble if she didn't. Her relationship with Sadness also affected her motivation because Sadness slowed her down a bit because she was so negative. It was all okay in the end, however, because they both realized Sadness's true worth and were both motivated to get back to headquarters.


"Does Pixar's Inside Out Show How Memory Actually Works?" The Conversation. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

"5 Psychological Theories of Motivation to Increase Productivity." Contactzilla. N.p., 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.