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A Psychological Theory Analysis of Squidward’s Character from Spongebob Squarepants

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I picked Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants to do a Psychological theory analysis on. Squidward is one of the main characters on the nickelodeon show. Squidward is portrayed as a bad-tempered, impetuous, cunning, selfish, lazy, conceited, cynical and incredibly unwelcoming octopus on the show. He hates his neighbors for their noisy, annoying behavior and likes to be left alone in his house with no noise. Squidward works at the Krusty Krab as a cashier which he despises. Squidward lives his entire life in a constant state of grief, and agony because he desperately wants to be a celebrity or an artist with hair and wealth. He has a passion of playing the clarinet, but he is not good at it. Squidward does not talk much about his family and considers himself to be misinterpreted by the people of the bikini bottom and blames society for his failures. He also has an archnemesis from high school that has taken his life goal from him and has always had distastefulness towards him as that should have been Squidward. This plays a big part of his personality as he always must show him, he is doing much better, which why he is always trying upmarket his ability to reach success.

The theory I think best describes Squidward in the humanistic approach is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Squidward has met the physiological needs in order to be able to live on his own and be independent and that allowed him to move up in the hierarchy where he gains safety. He does have the safety of defense of the body, employment, morality, family, health and property. This allowed him to move up to where he stayed for most of his life. He does not have a relationship with his family now and because of this he is longing for that love which is why he is so standoffish when SpongeBob and Patrick give him attention as this is not the attention, he wants but from his family. He was very spoiled and loved as a child but now as an adult he barely talks to anyone in his family. Therefore, he is stuck at this place on the hierarchy. According to the Hierarchy, he is unable to reach esteem and self-actualization as he has not been able to reach love and belonging on it. This leads to him having a failure to satisfy lower needs on the hierarchy which produce a greater problem called deficiency needs. This is what Squidward shows as he lacks the confidence to know he can really be a famous clarinet player, but he does not practice correctly. He believes everything he does is perfect but, it is not. This is where his growth stops as he is stuck at the love/belonging level. Since he is not attaining anymore levels, he uses that as a reason to act out and pretend he is attaining Self-actualization. According to the author, “If you can perceive the world accurately and without neurotic distortion, and if you take responsibility for your choices, then you become what Rogers called a fully functioning person, who lives what the existentialists would call an authentic existence — except that the fully functioning person is happy”. This relates to Squidward as he is trying to reach this point where he is normal and is able to reach his goals but falls short due to the fact he is stuck at a level that is causing his motivation to lower resisting him to move forward, making him lose focus for what he wanted to do. This is where he started to lose motivation at work and only started thinking about what he wanted to do causing him to constantly think about playing the clarinet or practice it at work when he should be working as a cashier. According to Author, “So it is crucial that employees go that extra mile and apply their initiative and imagination to the organization’s goals”. This is what Squidward is not doing as he is looking to be an independent person that does not need any love or support hence why he is always trying to play his clarinet to get himself out in public so he can get famous. To him, he does not need anyone to help him out to get to where he needs to be but because of the fact he has not gotten to where he needs to be, he starts getting very irritated showing signs of neuroticism. This explains why he does not have many friends or people that support him as he wants to move forward to get to where he wants but cannot. This is because he tries to act as if he doesn’t need friends when, he feels very lonely and acts crazy when around SpongeBob but still also likes his company but tries to keep that hidden away.

Another theory, I think best describes Squidward in the trait approach is Big Five model. He would score low on extraversion as he does not like to be around people. He does not have a warm, excitement seeking, dominant, and optimistic ambitious behavior. He just kind of pretends he does have to potential to reach his goals but has not been able to reach them like being famous. He also reacts a lot more than someone normal to sensory stimuli. For Example, when his archnemesis came to see him, Squidward had to show he was just as successful by lying that he owned a restaurant. According to the text, “But introverts react more quickly and more strongly to loud, bright, or exciting stimuli — or, even, sour tastes. These reactions lead them to withdraw — the crowds, noise, and excitement are just too much — and exhibit the pattern of behavior”. This shows that this most represents Squidward as he always tries to stay away from people as he does not like to interact with people and likes to be left alone in a quiet area with no one. Squidward would also score very high on the neuroticism scale as Squidward is very self-conscious and hostile. Squidward has a hard time trying to use effective problem-solving skills with SpongeBob as he does not know how to deal with people as he never really had many friends. According to the text, “Persons who score high on this trait tend to deal ineffectively with problems in their lives and react more negatively to stressful events”. This relates really well with Squidward as he has an inability to deal with problems as he goes insane when SpongeBob or Patrick bother him or if he sees his archnemesis, Squilliam Fancyson, as they stress him out causing him to react negatively and very aggressive as they cause him a lot of stress. This is because he considers him to be the epitome of success he is trying to achieve. He also doesn’t react well to SpongeBob and Patrick when they stress him out because he starts going crazy and starts reacting in abnormal ways towards them as they are too loud for Squidward to handle. Squidward would most likely score low on the conscientiousness as he does come to work all the time at the Krusty Krab, he does not like working there and does not have the qualities to be a cashier as he is not very inviting as a person. According to the author, “The trait has other downsides: Highly conscientious people are prone to feel guilty when they don’t live up to expectations”. This relates to Squidward as he would score very low on this scale as he is not prone to feel guilty when he feels he is not living up to his expectations but instead gets jealous and pretends to try which then give up as he is not willing to put in the work to become a celebrity or a famous clarinet player. Squidward will also score very low on agreeableness as he is not very agreeable as a person and lacks friendliness, warmth and love towards other. He would score high on openness to experience and intellect as he is creative, artistic, imaginative, and clever. He considers himself to be creative but people in Bikini Bottom think otherwise. Therefore, he tries super hard to prove to people that he is good at what he does but falls short as he can never get to the point of success he wants.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it does not explain why Squidward is able to achieve some idea of esteem or self-actualization because according to the hierarchy he should not have been able to do so. This means he uses SpongeBob to help him reach to those other levels even though he despises him. This also doesn’t explain why he tries to help SpongeBob make him like Squidward so he can have a friend that is more like himself. It also does not explain why he is able to have confidence as he has not reached the esteem level. It also doesn’t explain whether he is not able to create friendships as he cannot find people that are like him that he likes. It also does not explain why Squidward wants to reach self- actualization as he is not someone who sees the world or judge people accurately. He also does not want to experience the world fully as he would rather stay at home and have tea.

According to the Big Five model, it does not explain why Squidward is on both sides of the scale. it shows that Squidward does show a little bit of everything but shows higher potions of the bad parts tested in this theory. It also does not explain whether this is environmentally related or genetically related. As this can tell us if his personality is normal where he is from or if it comes from his family. It also does not explain why Squidward has points where he tries to be a better person to others and why he tries to get people to like him. It also does not explain why Squidward has a lack of motivation at work but has the motivation to be creative with art or music that he loves and how he changes his personality when he is around things that make him happy and forget how miserable he is. it does not explain why Squidward has such an erratic personality as he is not the same person, he is every day. Some days he can work with others, other days he is not willing and loses his sanity towards them. Using these theories, we can explain to an extent why Squidward is the way he is, but it does not explain completely why he is who he is as different approaches are needed to explain a person’s personality.

I think Squidward is the way he is as he has been brought up in a very sophisticated background where he is used to having everything given to him on a silver platter. I think therefore he feels like a disappointment as he is not able to reach the success he desires as he lacks ability to reach his full potential. I do not think his personality is genetic as the way he was brought up dictated how he wanted to live his life but was never able to reach his full potential since he was left on his own for most of his life. I think the lack of support for his music and art is a cause of his neurotic behavior as he is looking for attention he never got from his family. I think therefore he keeps SpongeBob and Patrick close as they give him the attention he always wanted from people. I think that having his enemy gain success much faster than Squidward played a big part in his personality as he still feels like he can reach his goals even with the reminder that his archnemesis is doing much better than he is. This is what leads to Squidward having such a moody personality as he could have done so much in his life but is stuck as a cashier at a fast food restaurant which is what he never wanted. I think this explains why Squidward is the way he is.

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A Psychological Theory Analysis of Squidward’s Character from Spongebob Squarepants. (2022, Jun 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
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