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Pay It Forward Movie: Analysis of Trevor Mckinney’s Self-concept

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Pay It Forward Movie: Analysis of Trevor Mckinney’s Self-concept Essay

Typically when someone does us a favor we always pay it back in some way and then that be it. But, instead of paying it back main character Trevor McKinney has the idea of paying it forward. It was one day when his whole self-conception changed because of his history teacher. When his teacher gave an assignment to convey an idea that would change the world and then taking it into action. Trevor’s assignment quickly began to influence his self-concept and as to what and how he could change the world. The influence had begun as a thought to “pay it forward” whereas, his self-concept being that if he was able to change the world by doing something to help someone else why not do it?

Trevor would then proceed to do an act of kindness for three individuals, however instead of receiving it back in some way, he asked the three individuals to pay it forward to three more individuals. In theory this could create positive chain reaction. Trevor often compared himself to others, and comparing his life to others with result of helping them. For example, Mr. Simonet Trevor’s teacher portrayed social comparison by comparing his life to Trevor’s. Noticing the similarities between their upbringing, Mr. Simonet stated they both were raised by abusive fathers. Aside from their fathers, Trevor does not live the best lifestyle because of his troubled alcoholic mother and he notices his teacher is covered in burns all over his body so assumes his home life isn’t the best it could be either.

Trevor’s self-concept is influcenced by those who surround him(peers) and significanct others within his life. Seeing that comparison helped show Trevor that there is other people around you that are going through the same struggles you deal with it if not worse. He has the mentality of wanting to be able to help others by a simple act of kindness. Being able to show others that act of kindness helps Trevor in similar ways it can for other individuals. Culture is constantly shaping people. One’s culture is shaped by their beliefs and values. Because of this it can influence our self-concept if we do not endorse in others individual cultures. Cultural diversity can have a positive influence if one embraces the differences of other cultures. If the differences are used to discriminate against others, it’s harmful.

Trevor influences his self-concept through culture by how he was brought up my his parents. He sees that he didn’t have the best home life or relationship with his parents as he could have. Taking that and knowing the circumstances he tries to see the best in everyone and every situation. In result, that’s why he pays it forward. Although it being one of the last things talked about leadership, self- awareness is possibly one of the most valuable. Having self- awareness is being aware and conscious of what you are good at while acknowledging what is still left for you to learn. An Example of this is being open and admitting you don’t know the answer and taking own to your mistakes. Because whether or not if we acknowledge our weaknesses or don’t, everyone’s else is still able to notice them. Rather than hiding our weaknesses, we should own and highlight them, where we can create a perception of self- awareness.

Trevor McKinney shows both feedback and self- disclosure throughout the movie. Trevor’s peers and teacher Mr. Simonet notice that Trevor is a good listener. With the reputation of being a good listener, Trevor’s peers feel more comfortable approaching them with their issues. The feedback in this scenario is that it makes Trevor realize that aspect of his character and makes him want to continue being a good listener since it was perceived well by others. Another way feedback was shown by Trevor is when he started his idea pay it forward by giving an act of kindness to three individuals. Well with one the individuals Trevor does an act of kindness for but the reporter finds out. Trevor thinks his idea sucks and isn’t working, but little did he know it actually was working. The reporter found the lady who helped the man in the hospital and saw she was paying it forward. When talking about self- disclosure Trevor is very lonely. He puts on a good front to his peers but deep inside he does feel lonely because he is at home by himself almost all the time. Another example Trevor portrays self-disclosure is his idea to pay it Forward is behind his alcoholic mother. He wants nothing more than for his mother to be okay and right.

All in all, he learned that he is a good listener and the others around him appreciate that, and even when he thinks his idea wasn’t working in the way he wanted it actually was. Sometimes we have to take a step back and get feedback to realize and collect ourselves. While on the other hand you may know things about yourself that others don’t. Either way with communication you will be able to contribute and be more open to areas by increasing your open are and decreasing your hidden area.

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Pay It Forward Movie: Analysis of Trevor Mckinney’s Self-concept. (2020, April 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“Pay It Forward Movie: Analysis of Trevor Mckinney’s Self-concept.” GradesFixer, 02 Apr. 2020,
Pay It Forward Movie: Analysis of Trevor Mckinney’s Self-concept. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Pay It Forward Movie: Analysis of Trevor Mckinney’s Self-concept [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Apr 02 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from:
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