Entertainment Industry Concept Aging, Gender, Personality Development Movies Television Shows
Uniqueness vs. Universality
The field of Psychology offers a vast network of concepts, principles, and theories to explain and describe the mental and behavioral characteristics of an individual or group. It is a science that explores biological, cognitive, social, and various other aspects of the human mind and human interaction to explain behavioral traits and development, among other attributes. One such principle of psychology that attempts to explain a realm of behavioral traits is personality psychology -- a branch of psychology supported by studies of personality and individual differences. Personality psychology is an umbrella term, covering a range of theories and concepts. One such concept offering insight into differences between individuals is study of Uniqueness vs. Universality.
Uniqueness vs. Universality explores resulting personality as a product of the individual vs. The product of a group dynamic. The argument investigates whether humans are distinctive as individuals (uniqueness) or if all humans are generally similar in their nature (universality).
The concept of Uniqueness endorses the distinctiveness of the individual as a product of one's own focus to their needs. Each person is an expert on their own life, and can solely identify their emotional needs to promote health and well-being. During the lifespan, emotional needs experience ebb and flow, and it is only the individual that can assess, and respond to their needs. Uniqueness supports each person's needs are exclusive to only them, and what fulfills one individual will not fulfill another.
The perception of Universality is rooted in the value that all humans share the same basic needs. For example, all humans need food, shelter, water, sleep, to survive. The requirement of these basic needs encourages humans are all alike in a fundamental regard. The same idea for physical needs to sustain human life can then be applied to shared emotional needs; translating into universal personality characteristics. Therefore, humans also have shared needs for feelings of belonging, love, respect, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Throughout the lifespan, all humans strive to obtain these emotional needs, and accordingly feed their personalities to achieve them.
Nature vs. Nurture
One of the oldest debates in the realm of psychology and the study of human behavior is the principle of Nature vs. Nurture. Although the discussion has been conducted for millennia, attributed to such philosophers as Plato and Descartes, it still strikes with modern relevance. The core of the debate can be distilled into a single question: Is an individual a product of their genetics (nature) or a product of the environment in which they live (nurture)?
The concept of nature being the sole responsibility for a person's personality, performance, and behavior characteristics is centered on genetic inheritance. For example, if someone is academically successful, this would be considered a result of their genetic make-up. In regards to the lifespan, one's successes, failures, physical and mental attributes, would all be a consequence of their DNA, and would occur regardless of any other environmental influences. The principle resides in a "born this way" approach, concluding an individual is founded with innate qualities that cannot be deterred.
The nurture aspect of the debate explains personal experiences are responsible for how humans differ in physical and behavioral traits. This argument suggests it is not a matter of genetic influences, but human encounters and interactions that determine how a person behaves, who they become, and gives direct influence throughout the lifespan. Philosophers such as John Locke believe humans are born as a blank slate, to be manipulated and molded by experiences throughout one's life with no regard for inheritance.
In the present, the majority of psychologists believe nature and nurture work in unison, not in opposition, as a product of biology and psychology. Offspring will inevitably inherit genetic traits from their parents that are reflected in their physical, mental, and emotional processes. Simultaneously, an individual is molded by their family and peer interaction, cultural accessibility, and other contributing influences.
The entertainment industry is host to a complex network of media and creative outlets; responsible for relaying news, live action events, scripted stories, and other products of entertainment to the public. Through these channels, non-fictional and fictional accounts are expressed and potentially received by a near infinite audience. Two primary outlets reaching from the entertainment industry to this audience are film and television - both of which have high accessibility due to the online and digital markets. The vast film and television audiences are subject to a multitude of stories, images, and ideas; portraying both intentional and unintentional implications concerning human behaviors and values.
The studying of human behavior and ideals is a driving force behind storytelling, and the realm of film, television, and the entertainment industry are not exempt. The entertainment industry depicts a range of human characteristics and circumstances, three of the most basic portrayals are age, gender, and personality. Films and television shows are comprised with characters representing males, females, various age groups, cultures, moral dilemmas, human flaws, and traits. Some accounts chronicle family life, police procedurals, fantasy worlds, the supernatural, high school settings -- and those are but a small sample.
Despite the genre or target audience, every film and every television show provides insight into age, gender, and personality. These illustrations can be profound, or unremarkable, intentional, or coincidence. Regardless of intention, the reflections of these human traits are translated to the audience and project conceptions of the human race. Some conceptions glorify certain aspects while others are diminished; each program, scripted or non-scripted, sends a message.
Every film and television program plays their role in feeding conceptions of age, gender, and personality, as they all employ characters to interpret their story. A character's age is not always specific, meaning the audience may not know the exact year in which the character was born, but generalities can be made, i.e. teenage, middle age, twenty-something, etc. The majority of the time a character's gender is obvious as one can easily decide from outward appearances if one is male or female. There are facets of gender, however, that are not as precise. One aspect that is not as clear is gender roles. For example, a stay-at-home father character with a bread-winning wife blurs the portrayal of gender roles (Alexander, 2009).
Beyond age and gender, films and television shows exemplify a myriad of personalities. Characters portray a wide range of traits, behaviors, and qualities. The jokester, the tough-guy, the nurturing mother, and the trouble-maker are some examples of such personalities. This is by no means a comprehensive list. These roles, and countess others, find their way into the entertainment industry to be cast into film and television.
The array of ages, gender and gender roles, and personalities portrayed by film and television leaves their impressions on the audience. Although several of these programs are fictional, the stories and characters are derived by some extent from real-life human emotions and experiences. One might not be able to relate to an alien hunter on a foreign planet, but one can find commonality in feelings of fear, pride, stress, and the like. For example, one television family, or crime show, relayed to millions of viewers implies the basics of human behavior -- some of which are considered acceptable or "normal" (Polce-Lynch, 2001). The consequence of these implications leaves audiences trying to identify with fictional characters, and in some circumstances this creates stereotypes and near impossible standards.
The existence of stereotypes stemming from film and television are inevitable. These media outlets provide audiences with a quick, generality about a person or a group of people -- often relating to age, gender, social roles and personality. The significance in stereotyping is evident in its problematic outcomes: differences in people are distilled to simplistic categories, assumptions about people become reality, and they promote social prejudice ("Media stereotyping," 2010).
While stereotypes relay messages that reduce large populations into categories, many social groups are left underrepresented. One study examined 100 top-grossing films, dating from the 1940s to the present, to study female characters. A total of eight-hundred twenty-nine characters were rated based on attractiveness, intelligence, socioeconomic status, movie outcome, and other categories. The research concluded that of these films, older female characters were more underrepresented and negatively portrayed than their corresponding male characters (Bazzini, 1997).
The abundance of personalities depicted in film and television leaves a variety of impressions and understandings on the audience. Media influences on self-esteem and body image have been studied and observed for the last few decades. In particular, how film and television explore ideal female behaviors and traits to the younger female audience, inherently shaping attitudes and personalities. In addition to female stereotypes, concepts of ideal masculinity exist for male audiences -- the same applying to body image and "being a man" conduct.
Gender and gender roles are not the only concepts to relay stereotypes and generalities to the audience. Film and television exhibits scripted and non-scripted insights into romantic relationships, crime, armed forces, and other subcultures. Notably,…