Essay Andy Dufresne: A Caged Bird

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Social psychology is relevant to The Shawshank Redemption because the criminal justice system in the United States, particularly the component of correctional institutions, can have an extreme impact on the way someone feels, thinks, and even acts. Understanding the relationship works is vital in order to suggest potential ways of improvement. Through watching the film, I discovered at least five concepts within the branch of social psychology: illusory correlation, egoism, foot-in-the-door technique, cognitive dissonance theory, and instrumental aggression.
At the opening of the film, Andy Dufresne, a banker from Maine, stands trial for the murders of his wife and her new lover, Glenn Quentin, a professional golfer. The prosecutor paints a picture of the crime scene: “We have bullets on the ground, which bear his fingerprints. A broken bourbon bottle, likewise with fingerprints. And most of all, we have a beautiful young woman and her lover lying dead in each other’s arms” (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994). After hearing the strong circumstantial evidence, the jury finds Andy guilty of the murders and whisks him away to Shawshank Prison. However, after spending nineteen years of imprisonment, Andy befriends a new inmate named Tommy. Tommy then tells Andy of an inmate he had previously encountered. The inmate, Elmo Blatch, had admitted to killing a golf pro and “this tasty bitch he was with” (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994). Elmo had also stated that the woman’s husband, who was “some hotshot banker,” had been held responsible (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994).
The confession does two things. First, it confirms Andy’s innocence. Second, it illustrates an illusory correlation: an overestimation of the relationship between two var...

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... relevant. Thus, there is a minimum of three things I can deduce from this examination. First, the adjudications within American courts are fallible, especially when reliant upon circumstantial evidence. Secondly, the modern form of imprisonment may not be beneficial to criminals or to society. It seems to focus on punishment, as opposed to the reinforcement of preferred behavior. Furthermore, U.S. law enforcement officials may be as malicious as the convicts they detain.

Darabont, F. (Director). (1994). The Shawshank Redemption [DVD]. Burbank, California: Castle Rock Entertainment.
Taylor, S. E., Peplau, L. A., & Sears, D. O. (2006). Social Psychology. 12th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
Williams, W.R. (2010). Psychology 302 lecture. November 29, 2010.
Williams, W.R. (2010). Psychology 302 lecture. September 10, 2010.

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