This is number 3 of my awesome Lit essays ;D
How does the Lord of the Flies relate to studies in psychology?
There are many different experiments that relate to the plotline of this movie, some of them include the Milgram experiment and the Robber’s cave experiment. This movie explores such behaviours as obedience, social hierarchy and Human instinct or we could call it the hierarchy of human need, and many other social behaviours which we will look at in this essay, this text is going to simply link experiments with they’re parts in the movie.
Humans are social creatures, and therefore have a need to be accepted and loved, one of the easiest ways of getting accepted is to act like the group that you want to be accepted by, this act goes by another name: conformity. The most well-known conformity experiment was done by Solomon Asch; He gathered a bunch of boys into a room to ask a series of questions- except for one all the boys were actors, and being instructed to say the wrong answer. The results would come from the lone authentic boy if he would give the obvious correct answer, or follow the social code and give the wrong answer. More often then not the person would give the wrong answer, and prove Asch’s conformity theory. The boys in Lord of the Flies did the exact same thing, it was either all for Ralph or all for Jack, they took social cues from each other to chose either boy.
The fact that the boys did follow social cues, or didn’t want to stand out, can be linked back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs; as I said before humans feel the need to be accepted and loved.
However before that level comes the levels of Physiology, or in layman’s terms survival and the level of safety; after that comes love/belonging, esteem then self-actualisation which is the level of knowing who you are, and how you work. The boys in the text did go through this hierarchy, they went through it in order, first getting things to survive, then reassuring themselves with shelter and safety, creating a loving group (bar Jack and his group) where each boy had a place in. Most of them even made it through to the higher levels of the triangle, becoming the leaders and figuring out, or trying to figure out the problems in the society.
Another experiment that was very closely linked to this text was the Robber’s cave experiment. In this experiment two groups of boy, around the same age as the character in the book were left to their own devices in a isolated camp. The boys created hierarchy and took care of their survival needs, overall it was almost mirror image to what the children in Lord of the Flies had done, bar the murder.
Another role-play experiment similar to Robber’s cave and thus to Lord of the Flies is the Stanford prison experiment, where students got divided into “prisoners” and “guards”. The result recieved from this controversial experiment is akin to the plot line of the text. Basically when a person is put in a certain situation, they would act accordingly. For example Jack, fell into the role of defying Ralph and becoming the rebel leader, through out the course of the book Jack became more and more sadistic, and more and more power drunk. The Stanford Prison experiment had the same reaction, the guards would become sadistic and do things that would have never thought to have done if in their right minds.
Overall Lord of the Flies is a very interesting book, its focus on human behaviour when left on its own is striking and unnerving. It relates to many experiments done in the psychology arena, experiments such as Robber’s cave, the Stanford Prison experiment and Maslow’s experiments. All of these describe a side of human nature that all of us know exist, but few wish to understand.
by Taxi xoxo