Film Class Assignments For Psychology

Market Analysis

By Michelle Okereke
Last Updated 22 May 2012

 
Target Audience
Psychology In Film brings together two vastly different topics and examines the relationship between them. As a result, the interests of our target audience are wide.

On the “film” side of the spectrum, the site aims to attract anyone from casual moviegoers to self-proclaimed “cinephiles” (people with a passion/love for cinema). The site does not offer much in the way of cinematic analysis from a literary perspective. Rather, it is meant to open up readers to the field of psychology. Viewers who enter the site with an interest in film should leave with an understanding of how film demonstrates (accurately or inaccurately) the psychological phenomena that govern human existence. Furthermore, they should gain a greater sensitivity to issues of mental illness, seeing them as a problem that afflicts real people, as well as a tool of cinema.

On the “psychology” side of the spectrum, the site aims to attract people with a mild interest in psychology, along with students majoring in psychology at the undergraduate level. Students/professors with more experience in psychology may also be interested, but the site will use less technical language and will not offer any research or insights that are not already available in scientific literature. Professors may look to the sight as a resource for teaching psychology basics through film, but this is not the primary purpose of the site.

The ideal viewer of this site (although not the only audience that it will appeal to) is someone like me—an undergraduate student considering a major in psychology who also happens to love film. Someone who watches film to observe the relationships that develop between characters and for the emotional struggles they face. I would argue that most moviegoers, whether they realize it or not, have an interest in the psychology. We see movies to connect with characters and to gain insight into the social norms that direct our own social interactions. Lastly, this site is for the person, like me, who watches a character lose their mind or turn out to have multiple personalities and feels an internal conflict between their love of cinema and knowledge of psychology. Skeptical of the accuracy of these portrayals of mental illness, I often search the web for an accurate psychological analysis. For anyone else who does this, Psychology In Film has the answers to all their burning questions!

The Competition
The breadth of the topics covered on Psychology In Film is wide. As a result, the market of sites that could attract our target audience is also wide. There are six general categories of websites that Psychology In Film may compete with:

  1. Psychology & Film Educational Websites
  2. Informational Film Databases
  3. Informational Psychology Websites
  4. Film Analysis Websites (blogs, critic reviews)
  5. Film/Entertainment News Websites
  6. Video Sharing Websites

It is important to note that this “competition” is not necessarily a bad thing. Many of the sites that fall under these categories serve as research materials for the site’s creation, as well as resources for audience members looking for more information. For the purpose of this analysis, I will focus on Psychology & Film Educational Websites (since they explicitly address the same topics as this website), Informational Film Databases, andInformational Psychology Websites (since, like this website, they focus on providing information to the viewer). The three sites I will analyze are Psych MoviesThe Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and the Complete Guide toPsychology at About.com.

Psych Movies
www.psychmovies.com
Strengths:
  • Created by psychology professor, Dr. Brooke J. Cannon
  • Contains lists of hundreds of movie titles, with a short description of the psychological principals demonstrated in each film and Cannon’s professional and personal opinion of each film
  • Films are divided by multiple categories (Complete List, Favorites, High School Appropriate, Developmental Psychology, Neuropsychology and Medical Disorders, Psychopathology, Social Psychology)
  • Contains articles (written by Cannon) on how psychological concepts (like bereavement, amnesia, stereotypes about therapy, leadership, love, suicide, and general psychology basics) are demonstrated in films
  • Provides resources for psychology instructors (including a psychology in film undergraduate course syllabus, a YouTube playlist, film analysis questions, and student reviews of the educational value and entertainment value of various films)
  • Contains links to relevant sites and resources, as well as an Amazon powered store with books related to psychology in film
Weaknesses:
  • Certain movie lists (Moral Development, Personality Theory, Sport Psychology) are said to be coming soon, but the site has not been updated for almost a year
  • Movie selection is restricted to movies with ratings greater than 6.0 on IMDb. This excludes less popular/well-received title that may be beneficial educationally
  • Some links do not work anymore
  • While the YouTube videos are useful, they are not embedded. As a result, they are out of context and their specific educational value is unclear
How Psychology In Film Is Different:
While Psych Movies offers a lot of useful information and lists of relevant movies, it is clearly meant to be a guide for professors to use—either for a psychology in film class or as a reference point for where to find films that can be used in psychology courses. Psychology In Film speaks directly to psychology students and film viewers. Through a focus on specific films, the site explores trends in the portrayal of psychology in film, and illustrates how the human psyche manifests in the development of films.

The Internet Movie Database
www.imdb.com
Strengths:
  • Provides an enormous collection of information on almost any movie or television show you could think of—including a short synopsis, quotes, photos, videos, cast and production information
  • Contains feed of news, drawing from sources across the internet, for each listed movie/show and each listed actor
  • Tracks the popularity of movies and actors
  • Always up to date
  • User involvement – user reviews, forums, and rating system (IMDb ratings, ranging from 1-10 stars, are often used a measure of films’ quality, from the perspective of the audience)
Weaknesses:
  • No focus on psychology
  • Offers only short summaries, not in-depth analyses (at least not from the website itself)
How Psychology In Film Is Different:
Our site aims for more depth than breadth. Its focus is on psychology related films and how psychology is involved in movies that are not explicitly focused on psychology. There is also less emphasis on actors and news about upcoming releases.

Complete Guide to Psychology
psychology.about.com

Strengths:
  • Contains very extensive collection of information on the field of psychology
  • Has a “basics” section with links to internal pages on the major areas of psychology
  • Has a “theories” page with links to internal pages on more in depth look at major theories in the history of psychology
  • Has an “experiments” page with links to internal pages on famous psychology experiments and research methods
  • Contains quizzes to test viewers’ initial knowledge and what they have learned from the site
Weaknesses:
  • No focus on film
  • While the navigation may seem simple initially, there are so many links within each page (often overlapping) that it is difficult to know where to go next
  • The amount of information is almost overwhelming (it lives up to its title of the “complete” guide)
How Psychology In Film Is Different:
While our site is also a database to some degree, its goals are more clearly defined. While a viewer can choose to jump around between pages, there is a more linear sequence that a viewer who is looking for a concise message may choose to follow.

YouTube Channel for Psychology Videos (including many social psychology videos) - Steven Ross has started an excellent compendium of video clips from movies, TV shows, advertisements, news programs, and other sources. It is well organized in playlists to find video clips in many areas of psychology.

Making Connections -- Bridging psychological concepts and social issues -- Created by Susan Goldstein and colleagues, this site "was designed to provide instructors with psychological research findings and other scholarly information on specific social issues and assist them, both pedagogically and conceptually, in linking those social issues to the psychological constructs and theories discussed in their classes. The website includes (1) summaries of articles addressing social issues from recent peer-reviewed social science journals, (2) suggestions for “making connections” between specific research findings and psychological constructs, (3) supplementary podcasts, film clips, and articles, (4) pedagogy-focused resources on curriculum development, classroom activities, teaching strategies, and service learning, and (5) links to professional and non-profit organizations with information on social issues. The website material is searchable by issue as well as relevant psychological construct and addresses such topics as truancy intervention, cultural socialization in transracial adoption, LGB victimization in the military, smartphone technology in behavioral healthcare, disability and childhood violence exposure, manifest ethnic identification in employment situations, global warming beliefs, anti-bullying programs, and resilience among Afghan women."

Science of Relationships - Ben Le, Gary Lewandowski, Tim Loving, and Marci Gleason have created a new website entitled Science of Relationships. It will keep us up to date on research in the field, answer questions submitted to the site, and provide observations on relationships in pop culture and on references in the media. They will even have a "Fact Checker" section that will verify and debunk claims. As they say, it will be their version of Mythbusters, "but without stuff exploding."

GoCognitive Web Project - "The goal of the GoCognitive web project is the creation of an online center for teaching in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. We are providing online demonstrations of cognitive and neurological phenomena as well as video content related to research in neuroscience. Many of the demonstrations are downloadable and the content modifiable so that they can be used in small-scale research projects by students."

Teaching Research and Statistics in Psychology - TeachPsychScience.org is a new site created by Gary Lewandowski, Natalie Ciarocco, and David Strohmetz. "TeachPsychScience.org provides links to online demonstrations, descriptions of class demonstrations, suggestions for class/lab activities, class assignments, lecture materials, and/or student exercises." The site was supported by funding from the APS Teaching Fund, a great place to go to create such resources.

Kelvin Seifert's TeachingEdPsych - a new Wiki that is collecting resources for the teaching of educational psychology

Marianne Miserandino's Personality Pedagogy - an excellent Wiki-based site that presents lots of resources for instructors of personality and related courses -- the Wiki format also allows you to add to the site.

Correlation or Causation? - This page contains a large number of science news headlines that link to the actual popular press articles. Unfortunately, many of the headlines confuse correlation and causation. Some activities/assignments are included on the page which describe how you can use this resource in a variety of courses.

 

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