“What’s Going On Inside Their Heads?”: Demystifying Emotions with Pixar’s Inside Out
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In the summer of 2015, Pixar released Inside Out, a film about an eleven-year-old girl named Riley and the five personified emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust) inside her head that control her response to daily events. Since its release, psychologists and psychiatrists have championed the film for the way it handles complex emotional problems in a way that is comprehensible even for young audiences; other attempts to model the way our brain works have not been nearly as powerful. This research aims to uncover why we need successful emotional tools like Inside Out. What can we learn about emotions? Is there something to be gathered from the way it uses film techniques to teach lessons; to inspire metacognition on emotion? What commentary is there on the benefits of embracing emotions? I believe the compelling narrative and colorful characters, along with the scientific accuracy of the visual elements used, help to model valuable strategies for emotional maturity. To provide evidence, I look to the psychologists who aided the Pixar team, and the thoughts of many scholars within the fields of psychology, film, philosophy, etc.