The Movie "Inside Out": Psychology Principles

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Words: 1033 |

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6 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 1033|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Inside out is a film that revolves around Riley and takes us on an emotional journey she experiences throughout the entire film. There are three main psychological principles that are very evident to me in the reading as well as the movie. The first on is well-being. Riley’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco bothered her emotionally because she was not comfortable and wasn’t ready for the change. The transition makes very small events hard to enjoy and makes her suffer from viewing what she has in her life completely. This psychological principle is definitely associated with anxiety that she experiences in her new town. The second psychological principle I noticed is socialization. Socialization is when we have a strong need for a sense of belonging and that’s exactly what Riley struggles with in the film. They feel extremely unhappy with what they have to experience in their life. Last but not least, Riley struggles to find her identity. She finds comfort in her past memories in Minnesota and not in the new place their family moved to. Socialization and identity issues both cause Riley to go into depression. Throughout the film, we find her struggling to be happy and to think about the positive thoughts only, yet she gets caught up in all that is going around her and struggles to enjoy what she has.

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There are many relevant scenes that display the psychological principles in this movie. For example, Riley’s well-being is deeply affected when “Sadness gradually takes control of Riley’s thought processes about the changes she is going through. This is most evident when Sadness adds blue hues to the images of Riley’s memories of her life in Minnesota”. In addition, when she realizes that the new house is extremely small, the pizza place only serves pizza with broccoli, and when she finds out that her dad is under job stress, she feels attacked and anxious. This is when Sadness tries to take control to change her emotional stage. When Riley goes upstairs to take a look at her room, she feels sad and anxious because it didn’t look the way she wanted it to look. However, that’s when Joy tries to tell her how she can rearrange the furniture in her room to make it warm and comfortable. Moreover, according to socialization, “emotions organize our social lives… the emotions structure (not just color) such disparate social interactions as attachment between parents and children, sibling conflicts, flirtations between young courters and negotiations between rivals”. Riley struggles to make friends in the class and finds it very hard to feel comfortable with the new school environment. Such feelings caused by Sadness, causes her to cry on the first day in front of the class. This eventually becomes Riley’s sad core memory. Such social isolation problems change Riley’s personality and even her parents notice that Riley is more reclusive and moodier than usual. When her parents try to talk to her about what is bothering her, she ends up having a fight with her father and let’s Anger take control of her. All the social isolation struggles and well bring problems in addition to leading to anxiety and depression, influenced Riley to run away from home. Furthermore, when Riley calls her friend back home and she tells Riley that she made a new friend, Riley gets jealous and feels angered that she is being replaced. She doesn’t seem to find her identity and comfort with the people she meets in San Francisco, which affects her negatively. Riley’s parents try to make her realize her new identity and sustain the old one during the move by trying to create a sense of belonging for her, but she still refuses because she is trying to fight all that’s going on in her mind all along. Her parent’s effort clearly doesn’t work because despite all they tried to do for her, she overlooked everything and tried to run away from home.

The article touches base on how Riley is again a teenager who has “lost a sense of childhood” hence she tends to behave in such a depressed way throughout the movie. The article also talks about how “Sadness is seen as a drag in the film” and how “Joy has to try so hard to pull her out of Riley’s mind” which correlates with what I said according to the film. Sadness seems to control so many of Riley’s emotions which lead her to over analyze and to be disappointed most of the time. This article states that “our identities are defined by specific emotions, which shape how we perceive the world, how we express ourselves and the responses we evoke in others” which closely fits to the concept of identity. Furthermore, it is true that “our memories of the past and even our moral judgments of right and wrong” in addition to emotions is what guides our perceptions of the world. The movie scenes in the article’s perspective would balance each other very well because the article does talk about past experiences affecting our new experiences and, in the movie, one can clearly understand why Riley goes through all those over whelming emotions.

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In coclusion, it is stated that “emotions do not exist in isolation” and in the movie we see each character having full control of individual feelings and emotions, hence this is an inaccuracy. This is because there are not specific areas in the brain for each emotion. They are very complicated and completed mixed and are usually involved in memories. Last but not least, an inaccuracy that was shown in the movie was about memories. We know that memories are not discrete episodes, but are stored in networks and once certain memory is recalled, it activates everything connected. Hence the film does not complete portray the role of memories in one’s, in this case Riley’s life. However, it does somewhat accurately show what a teenager can face when in difficult situations because the film takes us through almost every possible emotion of a teenager. Although the film, Inside Out, has some inaccurate in representing emotions and memories, it does a good job of illustrating how a person might react to some unfavored situations. 

Works Cited

  1. Allen, N. B., & Badcock, P. B. (2003). The social risk hypothesis of depressed mood: Evolutionary, psychosocial, and neurobiological perspectives. Psychological Bulletin, 129(6), 887-913.
  2. American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). APA.
  3. Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39(3), 281-291.
  4. Gross, J. J. (2015). Emotion regulation: Current status and future prospects. Psychological Inquiry, 26(1), 1-26.
  5. Lerner, J. S., & Keltner, D. (2000). Beyond valence: Toward a model of emotion-specific influences on judgment and choice. Cognition and Emotion, 14(4), 473-493.
  6. Lewis, M. D., Granic, I., & Lamm, C. (Eds.). (2006). Emotion, development, and self-organization: Dynamic systems approaches to emotional development. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2012). Emotion regulation and psychopathology: The role of gender. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 8, 161-187.
  8. Ochsner, K. N., & Gross, J. J. (2005). The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(5), 242-249.
  9. Panksepp, J. (2007). Neurologizing the psychology of affects: How appraisal-based constructivism and basic emotion theory can coexist. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(3), 281-296.
  10. Smith, C. A., & Kirby, L. D. (2009). Emotion regulation in schizophrenia: Affective, social, and clinical consequences of explicit and implicit regulation. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 40(2), 338-349.
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The Movie “Inside Out”: Psychology Principles. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 7, 2023, from
“The Movie “Inside Out”: Psychology Principles.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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