Social Psychological Theories in "High Fidelity" Analytical Essay by Nicky

An analysis of the film "High Fidelity" from several social psychological perspectives.
# 149787 | 3,393 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Jan 01, 2012 in Psychology (Social) , Film (Analysis, Criticism, Etc.)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


The paper uses the "social exchange theory" (SET) with reference to the two main characters in the film "High Fidelity"; Rob, the narrator and protagonist, and Laura, his erstwhile, future and often tentative girlfriend. The paper focuses on Rob's failed relationships, his hypocritical and hurtful behaviors and his aggression with Barry. The paper applies the "instrumental aggression" theory to Barry, an employee in Rob's record store, and uses the "empathy-altruism hypothesis" to describe behaviors by Dick, another record store employee.

Social Exchange Theory and Rob, the Narrator
Rob, Social Exchange Theory and his Failed Relationships
Rob and Laura, and the Social Exchange Theory
Rob's Hypocritical and Hurtful Departures from the Tenets of Social Exchange Theory
Aggression and Barry's behavior
Barry, Rob and the Aggressiveness Associated With Their Relationship in the Record Store
Dick and his Pro-Social Behavior: Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis

From the Paper:

"Rob is a classic nice guy but he is totally confused with reference to how to become a true partner in a relationship. Thibault and Kelly point to the fact that the "viability" of the social exchange theory rests on the assumption that "human beings recognize each other's life situations, notice each other's needs," and in certain instances human beings are "likely to engage in reciprocity." In Rob's case, he doesn't really notice his various female partners' needs and he hasn't a clue about reciprocity. He wants to get without giving very much. At the very final scene in the film Rob offers a clue to the audience that he is learning to give, but because of his selfishness shown throughout the film an alert viewer has to wonder if his seeming growth into reciprocity is a ruse, or sincere. Notwithstanding Rob's seeming growth at the conclusion of the film, this character only understands half of the reciprocity equation: the receiving part. He believes that because he is in a relationship he is therefore entitled to receive all the benefits he fantasizes about constantly. Mary E. Byrd, writing in the journal Public Health Nursing (and indeed Rob could use a good psychological nurse to guide him and heal him!), posits that social interaction is "the exchange of tangible or intangible goods, which are more or less costly or rewarding between two people (Byrd, 2006, p. 271)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Bierhoff, Hans-Werner. "Altruistic Personality in the Context of the Empathy-AltruismHypothesis." European Journal of Personality Vol. 18 (2004): 351-365.
  • Byrd, Mary E. "Social Exchange as a Framework for Client-Nurse Interaction DuringPublic Health Nursing Maternal-Child Home Visits." Public Health Nursing 23.3 (2006):271-276.
  • High Fidelity. Stephen Frears, Director. Touchstone Pictures / Dogstar Pictures, Producers.Starring John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Todd Louiso, et al. 2000.
  • Power, Clark F. Moral Education: M-Z. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008.
  • Russell, Gordon W. Aggression in the Sports World: A Social Psychological Perspective.New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Social Psychological Theories in "High Fidelity" (2012, January 01) Retrieved September 29, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Social Psychological Theories in "High Fidelity"" 01 January 2012. Web. 29 September. 2023. <>