Riley from Inside Out: Expression of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear

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Riley from Inside Out: Expression of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear

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In the movie, Inside Out, Riley, an eleven-year-old girl, is faced with having to move from Minnesota to San Francisco, California. Riley leaves behind her friends and hockey team, with which she identifies to be a major part of her personality and what makes her unique as an individual. Within Riley’s head, her emotions, personified as Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear, direct her on how to react to the stress of a new school, house, hockey team, and seeing her dad less, as well as voyaging throughout the other parts of Riley’s head to return to ‘headquarters’ after being accidentally removed. Inside Out provides insight on psychological concepts such as universal emotions, long term memory, mood dependent memory, the composition of personality, and the structure of inside one’s head that are both truthful and erroneous.

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The movie "Inside Out" initially presents the concept of universal emotions in a semi-truthful way. These emotions have been found to be recognized and reciprocated by every human. The movie includes Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear, but the final universal emotion of surprise is absent. However, the validity is redeemed since “the 5 emotions used in this film are in fact 5 of the 6 scientifically validated universal emotions (the 6th one surprising). Psychologist and scientist, Paul Eckman, is most known for his work with universal emotions as he traveled around the world and found that these were present in every culture and presented in the same way through the same facial expressions around the world” (Scarlet). The aspect of the commonality of the emotions is depicted when same emotions were inside Riley’s parents’ and teacher’s minds. Ultimately, the demonstration of the basic emotions is valid when displaying the embodiment of Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and Sadness in Riley as well as other characters such as her parents and teacher; however, the movie fails to include the emotion of surprise.

The additional idea that long term memories can disappear is a flawed impression in the "Inside Out" that is expressed when Bing Bong disappears in the Memory Dump. In reality, long-term memories are always memorized but may not be retrievable. Despite what is illustrated in the movie, “the capacity of long term memory could be unlimited, the main constraint on recall being accessibility rather than availability” (McLeod). The movie implies that Bing Bong died because Riley grew up and forgot about him. However, it is more correct that she is not recalling him in the moment. Thus, the movie falsely discusses the volume of memory, and Bing Bong should not have disappeared because long term memory is does not vanish in actuality.

The movie precisely exhibitions the fact that memory is mood dependent, meaning that our emotional status influences our impressions of memories. When Riley is sad, she recollects the memory of her missing the winning goal during a hockey game as her sitting alone, and the memory is blue. Then, when Riley is content, she remembers her teammates cheering her on and the memory is yellow. The transformation of the perception of the memory suggests the role of the emotions in that “Sadness adds blue hues to the images of Riley’s memories of her life in Minnesota. Scientific studies find that our current emotions shape what we remember of the past” (Keltner and Ekman). Therefore, the modeling of mood dependent memory is properly shown, since Riley’s reminiscence of the same event varied based on her current feeling.

Next, the portrayal of personality being composed of personality islands and core memories is disputable. When Riley’s core memories were lost by Sadness, her personality islands gradually deteriorated, thus changing her personality. But, the accepted theory, called the Big Five Traits of Personality, believes that “each person’s personality can be mapped onto five spectrums of relatively stable characteristics that define who people are and how they might behave” (Kelly). This rejects unsound personality islands and core memories and focuses on qualities rather than external ideas such as that of Hockey Island, since hockey is not considered a feature someone has. However, Goofball Island could debatably categorize under the traits of Openness to experience, which involves imagination, or Extraversion, which involves enthusiasm. To conclude, personality islands and core memories may be part of our personalities, but do not completely form it.

Finally, the movie "Inside Out" overall lacks physical aspect of brain. Riley’s head is shown to contain a headquarters, a library of long term memories, personality islands, imagination land, and a memory dump. Though these structures are representative of true mental processes and functions, it does not include essential parts of the brain such as the two hemispheres, the different lobes, or the various parts like the hippocampus, which would explain how Riley makes new memories rather than just a tube in the headquarters. The headquarters most closely resembles “the amygdala, hippocampus, regions of the limbic cortex and the septal area. Together, these structures have been associated with multiple functions, including emotions, drives, long-term memory formation, behavior, and learning. So, in a way, we do have a ‘headquarters’” (Kelly). Despite the similarities, the movie combines the different structures into one, which minimizes the intricacy of the brain.The exclusion of such complicated structures make have been due to the fact that the movie "Inside Out" is targeted for younger children, but would have enhanced the psychological value of the movie. Overall, the absence of vital brain structures in the movie diminishes its psychological accuracy.

The movie Inside Out includes a multitude of psychological concepts that can be deemed both correct and inexact. The use of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear in Riley’s mind as well as her parents’ and teacher’s mind are truthful, however it dismisses the existence of surprise as a universal emotion. Bing Bong’s death, which represents a lost memory, is invalid since long term memories do not evaporate, but rather may just not be recalled at the time. The presentation of mood dependent memory through Riley’s changing perception of her missing the winning hockey goal is factual. However, the movie suggests that personality is directed related to core memories, when it is based on the Big Five traits and other aspects of life. In addition, the manifestation of mental processes is somewhat veracious, but lacks the physical features of the brain such as the lobes and hemispheres. Although there are few flaws in the movie, it generally accurately depicts various psychological concepts.

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