The portrayal of psychology in Hollywood movies is an interesting area that supports psychological discoveries. Due to the powerful nature of the Hollywood film industry and its significant effect in the daily lives of an infinite amount of people, it is appropriate to discuss accurate depictions of psychological issues in today’s society. “The Pursuit of Happyness” is the epitome of Hollywood movies containing the realistic psychological struggles that end with “too good to be true” outcomes.
Although it fails to qualify as high quality, psychology film, it is still a significant movie based on the true story of an African American man, Chris Gardner, living in San Francisco in the 80s. “The Pursuit of Happyness” looks at the ups and downs in Chris’ life on his way to becoming as a stockbroker, and eventually as a multi-millionaire. Several scenes in the movie exhibit many psychological concepts such as stress, perception, and motivation.
Chris Gardner is sticked to achieving key business objectives in his endeavor for success. In his business idea, he specializes in the supply of the bone density scanner. More importantly, he is a struggling salesman trying to support his family. Doctors are not willing to buy his product because they believe it is an unnecessary, luxurious medical device. He attempts to make things better, but they always lead to a worse situation.
His wife finally succumbs and leaves him. Chris cherishes his son more than anything in the world, which is why his wife decides to let their son stay with him. Chris later encounters a man getting out of a Ferrari, and asks him what about his career. The man informs Chris that he is a stockbroker and works for Dean-Wittem. From there, Chris decides follow an internship as a stockbroker hoping to land a full time job. Unfortunately, the internship has no salary, so he has to sell some of his medical bone scanners to earn money for his survival. He struggles through poverty and completes his internship, later becoming a successful businessman. Psychologically, the major source of stress for Chris and his wife is job stress.
They both have jobs that make high demands on performance but allow little creativity and opportunity for advancement. The minor hassles of financial concerns pile up causing frustration and relationship problems between Chris and his wife. She eventually falls into the burnout stage (mentally and emotionally exhausted), and leaves to New York alone, in search of a better job. On the other hand, Chris copes with this stress by maintaining a positive self-image and optimistic attitude. His wife’s classic burnout syndrome, represented as fight or flight, is a one dimensional portrayal in the film, and it has a well contrast with Chris Gardner’s approach.
This serves as a reminder to the audience about other human responses to stress and the pursuit of happiness. This depiction of stress is realistic in Hollywood films. In the movie, motivation is they key factor that drives Chris to get rid of his negative situations. After suffering so many setbacks, Chris’ main motivation to keep striving was his son.
Chris wanted to be a better father than his stepfather, and make sure his son had a better childhood. Maslow’s theory hierarchy of 5 needs, prioritizes physiological and safety needs, which spur motivation. This theory is effectively harmonized in the movie, as Chris becomes a nomad in need of shelter, after being evicted from his apartment. Once he manage to find shelter at a church, fulfilling his physical needs, other needs arise. He addresses his safety needs by seeking pleasure after finding his stolen scanner, successfully selling it to a doctor, to earn some money. Chris remains social from the start, helping him make vital connections with people. These people help him with the process of signing up and enrolling for the internship program.
Moreover, Chris lowers his son’s expectancy, by telling him that he won’t be able to play basketball well, no matter how hard he tries. Chris teaches his son a lesson, and says he can actually accomplish anything, no matter what anyone says. Chris’ son believes in himself again, and his self-esteem is boosted. The statement, “You want Something. Go get it.
Period,” is a moment of realization for both Chris and his son. It can be seen that Chris’ self-actualization, the highest-order need of Maslow’s theory, is to do well himself; his son is drive to achieve the goal he established. Perception is the method where humans comprehend their sensory impression in order to add definition of their surroundings. This perception process can be observed in many parts of the movie, especially when the perception about Chris changes among the interview panel of the stockbroker internship program. The panel reveals their true perception when they ask Chris, ” What would you say if a man walked in here with no shirt, and I hired him?” Chris replies, “He must have had on some really nice pants.
” Stereotyping played a major role in perception, because Chris was poorly dressed for the interview, and the interview panel thought he was silly. However, Chris presents himself in front of the panel with the powerful statement: I’m the type of person that if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, I’m gonna tell you that I don’t know. But I bet you what, I know how to find the answer and I will find the answer.This adds a positive impression on Chris and his attitude, changing the panel’s perception of him. He was successfully selected for the internship program.