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Social Influence And Persuasion In Cool Hand Luke

932 words - 4 pages

The late 1960’s famously introduced the idea of the “anti-hero”, which is defined as an individual with heroic qualities who is not in the position of an archetypal hero. One such example is the movie Cool Hand Luke, from 1967 starring Paul Newman. The movie surrounds a prisoner named Luke Jackson who refuses to comply or conform to the norms of the prison. The powerful Captain and the mysterious prison guard, whose silver reflecting sunglasses was the inspiration for one of the main prison guards in the popular Stanford prison experiment, tested his acts of defiance. This paper discusses the movie Cool Hand Luke and how the prisoners, Luke and the themes in the film relate to the Social Psychology 1ZO3 course focuses of conformity, non-conformity, and obedience to authority.
In the movie Cool Hand Luke, the other prisoners in the prison often displayed conformist behaviour. Their compliance, which is when the prisoners’ behaviour conformed to the sources request, often ended in unfair treatment to them. One example of this is how one of the prisoners complied to a night in the box even though he clearly did not want to spend his time there. Furthermore, the prisoners were part of the bystander effect, which is when the greater number of bystanders in an emergency, the less likely any one by standing will help. This was exemplified when Dragline was beating Luke up, and none of the many inmates had done anything about this. One explanation of this occurrence is that since Dragline had power –the ability to influence and control the behavior of others, even against their will- over the prisoners, they stood there and did not help. The inmates also constantly obeyed to the authority of the prison guards and the rules of the prison during most of the scenes in the movie. Their obedience was shaped by two factors. The first was the proximity and visibility of consequences, which was seen whenever someone was put into the box. The second was the proximity and credibility of authority, which demonstrated why they followed the prison since there is a social consensus on the associated rights and legitimacy of prison.
In contradiction to the inmates, Luke Jackson was the epitome of non-conformity. Additionally, in the first scene of the movie, Luke had displayed non-conformity by unscrewing the heads of parking meters. By breaking the law, and therefore going against the will of society, Luke displays his first of many outbreaks of non-conformity. Throughout the movie; Luke displays high levels of non-conformity towards the main form of authority, which were the prison guards and the captain of the prison. Luke expressed this many times however it was most obviously shown when...

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