Breakfast Club The Criminal by John Bender

Breakfast Club: The Criminal (John Bender)
Social Psychology
The Mere Exposure Effect
A psychological phenomenon by which people
tend to develop a liking for things because they
are exposed to it over and over again.
At the beginning of the detention, Bender acts contemptuously towards Claire due
to their differing lifestyles and personalities. However, by the end the detention they
become much more acclimated and comfortable with one another due to getting to
know each other better, to the point of kissing each other. This drastic change in
their relationship within a short time frame can be explained by the Mere Exposure
Self Fulfilling Prophecy
The process by which ones expectations about
another person eventually leads the other person
to behave in ways that confirm these
At one point in the movie, Bender was imitating his father by saying, "Stupid,
worthless, no good, retarded, big mouth, know-it-all, jerk". By his father
placing expectations on Bender's behavior and treating him in this manner,
Bender unwillingly starts to behave in this manner in order to live up to his
Fundamental Attribution Error
The fundamental attribution error is people's tendency to place
an undue emphasis on internal characteristics to explain
someone else's behavior in a given situation, rather than
considering various external factors.
Prior to their getting to know Bender in detail, other people considered him aggressive and
disrespectful and believed that such quality is a result of his predisposed personality. However,
Bender has been treated badly at home, constantly abused verbally and physically, and he has
had to defend for himself alone. While everyone attributed his rude actions to personal
predisposition, the aggressive behavior of Bender could be more due to the impact of his domestic
environment than it is due to his preexisting characteristics.
Social-Emotional Development
Marcia's Identity Diffusion
The status in which an individual has not made a
commitment to an identity, nor has even
explored an identity
At one point in the film, Andrew belittles Bender for not having any goals for his
life and that Bender might as well not exist at the school due to the lack of
identity. Andrew describes Bender accurately, as Bender is in a state of Identity
Diffusion due to his tough upbringing, as he has not yet realized his social
Baumrind's Parenting Styles: Neglectful
Parenting style where the parent acts indifferent to the
child and has little emotional involvement. The parents
make few to no demands and are univolved in the child's
At the very beginning of the film, the audience sees all the kids get dropped off by
their parents, except Bender. This may suggest that his parents do not care about
his life. Also, Bender makes many comments throughout the film about how his
father doesn't pay attention to him. This type of parenting is quite similar to that of
a neglectful parent.
Psychoanalytic Perspective
Defense Mechanism:
Displacement and Reaction
A defense mechanism that involves shifting
sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more
acceptable or less threatening object or person.
In the film, it is evident that Bender is constantly frustrated and
upset by his dad's actions. Instead of releasing these aggressive
impulses towards his father, he releases them towards Claire and
Reaction Formation
A defense mechanism that describes the
tendency of an individual to act in a manner
opposite from his or her unconscious beliefs.
Bender bullied Claire. He elevated Claire's family background and
mocked her. In the end, Bender kisses Claire, which would suggest that he
loved her for much of the movie. He acted in a manner that contradicts
his true feelings for Claire, which is exactly what reaction formation
Stages of Personality
Development: Fixation at the Oral
Being overindulged or under-indulged in this stage
of development results in an oral receptive
personality in which one is preoccupied with oral
In the film, Bender is both a smoker and drinker
which is normal activities for infants fixated in
the oral stage of development.