Dr. David Chun
“Mean Girls: A Social Psych Approach” Mean Girls is an American teen comedy that portrays the “typical” high school experience. Cady Heron is a 15-year-old girl who has spent most of her life in Africa, where she was home-schooled by her zoologist parents. When her family relocates to the United States, Cady finds herself attending a high school in suburban Illinois, where she gets a crash course in the various sub-strata of the student body: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, the "cool" kids, and so on. At the beginning of the movie Cady meets two friends, Daemon and Janis. These two students were seen as the outcast crowd or the out-group, but Cady has no idea. Much to her surprise, Cady finds herself embraced by a clique of rich and popular girls known to outsiders as "the Plastics," led by Regina George, Gretchen Weiners, and Karen Smith. While Cady is grateful for her new friends, it doesn't take long for her to realize how manipulative they can be, and she soon discovers she's violated an unwritten law when she goes out on a date with Aaron, who is charming, good looking...and Regina's former boyfriend. It isn't long before Regina and her pals are on the warpath, and Cady must face a level of vengeful behavior for which years in the jungle never prepared her. Looking at this movie from a social psychologist perspective, it provides ample amount of evidence which prove many theories and principles correct. In-groups and out-groups are one of relevant social psychology principles that are demonstrated in this movie. Other relevant social psychology principles presented in this movie schemas and the principle of conformity.
Principle 1: It's a well-known principle in social psychology that people define themselves in terms of social groupings and are quick to denigrate others who don't fit into those groups. Others who share our particular qualities are our "in group," and those who do not are our "out group." Mean Girls is solely based around this principle of in and out groups. On the first day of school, Cady ends up eating her lunch in a bathroom stall because all the kids reserved seats for their group or clique. She was an outsider and all of the groups did not find anything about her that fit theirs, which makes her “out group”. The in-group out-group theory was most prominent when Cady gets the “run down” on how the cafeteria is set up. As Janice put it this way; the cafeteria is the central nervous system in high school. Where you sit, determines your status in high school and what is your “in group”. Due to the fact that everyone classified Cady's friends as the “art freaks”, Cady was considered an art freak and had to sit with them. Everyone one outside the art geeks, are considered the out crowd, although from watching the movie it is obvious this group isn't as exclusive as the “Plastics”. The “Plastics” are interesting because the whole school was considered the “out group”. Their “in group” was so selective that only three girls were considered the plastics. These were the most popular girls in the school who basically dictated the “girl world”. The “Plastics” had rules about what they could wear, buy, do, look like, and who they could date, this enhanced their self image so much it disqualified others from gaining entrance. A subtle example of the plastics strong in group is the scene they are first introduced in the movie. Each lunch table has six seats, there are three girls who make up the plastics, no one else is allowed to sit with them because they aren’t part of their in group. Another example is the scene when Cady, Janice, and Daemon are on line to vote for “Spring Fling Queen” and Regina walks up to Cady and ask her why is she talking to Janice, not knowing they’re really friends, because she is a part of the out-group. Cady also never told Regina she was friends with Janice and Daemon because she was aware that she would be