Developmental psychology is an area that includes a wide range of disciplines and approaches to the study of human behavior and perceptions throughout the course of life. The purpose of this work is to assess the psychology of adolescents by applying relevant concepts and considering some issues with specific examples. As a background for the analysis, the movie “The Maze Runner” by Ball (2014) will be used because both the main and minor characters are teenagers. The aspects of cliques and crowds, bullying, friendship, and love and sexuality will be examined, and appropriate parallels between the events of the film and actual psychological models will be drawn.
Cliques and Crowds
With regard to adolescent groups, psychologists often use the concepts of cliques and crowds. According to Arnett and Jensen (2018), cliques are small groups that bring together teens with common interests or shared activities. Crowds, in turn, bring teens into more general groups and do not involve shared interests and close interpersonal contact (Arnett & Jensen, 2018). With reference to the events of the movie by Ball (2014), one can distinguish both cliques and crowds. The main character, Thomas, forms a coalition with like-minded people, and there are a few such small groups.
All several dozen teenagers are a crowd that has one common interest (to get out of the maze), but not all of its members are united with one another by interpersonal contacts. According to Shin (2017), cliques are formed when adolescents match in the context of behavioral habits, and balanced relationships are built. Therefore, such examples of interpersonal interaction are reflected in the film in question.
Adolescents’ interaction is largely based on shared activities and hobbies. As Arnett and Jensen (2018) argue, for teenagers, friendship is always associated with positive emotions and openness when like-minded people can share secrets. However, while comparing the traditional concept of adolescent friendship with that demonstrated in Ball’s (2014) movie, one can highlight significant differences. The characters in the film behave like adults and do not tend to exhibit the same communication typical of friends in adolescence. For instance, in the situation in which Thomas is with his partners, support is more important than a pleasant pastime, and openness gives way to dedication.
This type is more like an adult friendship and does not correspond to habitual teenage relationships. Shin (2017) notes that “adolescents tend to form friendships with similar peers,” while in “The Maze Runner,” the characters are forced to establish contact with one another against their will. Therefore, the standard notions of friendship do not correspond to those on the screen.
Bullying among adolescents is a common phenomenon that has evolved today through advanced forms of remote communication. Arnett and Jensen (2018) define bullying as a dangerous trend that has a negative impact on the adolescent psyche and can be associated not only with mental but also physical disorders. In the film in question, the main character is put under pressure at the beginning of the film due to his rookie status (Ball, 2014).
Nonetheless, later, having proved his strength and courage, Thomas becomes one of the leaders, overcoming the threshold of ridicule and aggression from individual partners (Ball, 2014). Some characters cannot behave in the same way and demonstrate resignation to bullying. According to Kaygisiz and Zeliha (2019), this is not uncommon for adolescents to exhibit submissive behaviors to gain friends, and Thomas’ environment proves this. Thus, the concept of bullying finds its expression in the movie and reflects typical teenage contradictions.
Love and Sexuality
The topic of love is often raised in studies on adolescent psychology. As Arnett and Jensen (2018) remark, at this stage, the foundations of sexual behavior emerge, and teenagers learn to interact with each other not only through friendly but also intimate contacts. In the movie by Ball (2014), the sexuality of the main character is not revealed. Nevertheless, the emergence of one girl in the second half of the film pushes the viewer to understand that love between her and Thomas is possible (Ball, 2014).
Although by this age, teenagers are already well aware of gender differences, Kaygisiz and Zeliha (2019) note that adolescence is a turbulent period in which young people actively learn new things. In the film, events unfold rapidly, and little time can pass from the moment the main character meets the new girl to their mutual love (Ball, 2014). Therefore, despite the fact that the topic of love and sexuality is not disclosed comprehensively, the movie hints at possible intimate relationships between the characters.
The analysis of the film “The Maze Runner” by Ball (2014) allows comparing individual aspects of adolescent behavior with those studied in developmental psychology. The concepts of friendship, cliques and crowds, bullying, and love and sexuality are reflected from the plot perspective. Not all the aforementioned aspects are unambiguously reflected in the movie. However, the plot of the film is fantastic, and the main character, along with his partners, is forced to adapt to specific conditions, thereby violating the usual norms of adolescent behavior.
Arnett, J. J., & Jensen, L. (2018). Human development: A cultural approach (3rd ed.) Pearson.
Ball, W. (2014). The maze runner [Film]. 20th Century Fox.
Kaygisiz, F., & Zeliha, T. R. A. Ş. (2019). A review on adolescents’ resilience in terms of submissive behaviors and self-compassion. Research on Education and Psychology, 3(2), 127-141.
Shin, H. (2017). Friendship dynamics of adolescent aggression, prosocial behavior, and social status: The moderating role of gender. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(11), 2305-2320. Web.