Popular Culture Meets Psychology

Understanding ourselves through pop culture.

A Big Bang for our TV Buck

A Big Bang for our TV Buck

I have two confessions to make...I am a psychology professor and I love The Big Bang Theory. No, not the one that started the universe...the television show featuring a cast of highly intelligent, yet socially clueless physicists, and their endearing and perennially bewildered neighbor, Penny. 

I invite you to view clips at your leisure, and won't spend valuable time describing the plot; however, I will sing the praises of the show in offering us wonderful opportuinities to see psychology at work. And I invite you to take a few minutes to follow the links in this post to some incredible examples of how television can both entertain and inform.

I imagine that scores of intro psych students and seasoned clinicians alike have debated whether Dr. Sheldon Cooper "has" an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This debate has been given even more steam following the recent inclusion of actress Mayim Bialik, aka Blossom, aka Amy Farrah Fowler, who has given Sheldon a run for his ASD money, and has left us wondering over the extent to which Asperger' Syndrome, OCD and a range of developmental disorders share common elements.  

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For your continued enjoyment, I offer you the opportunity to see how this incredibly intelligent show teaches us a little bit about psychology...and not pop psychology, but the real stuff; i.e., Behaviorism is nicely demonstrated in Sheldon's attempts to use conditioning to sand the rough spots of of his annoying neighbor. Cognitive processing is depicted in Sheldon's efforts at building a 'friendship algorithm,  and in a clip in which Leonard tries to teach sheldon about sarcasm. we see an interesting component of the teaching of Social Intelligence.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is priceless. I am proud of the way television has the courage to be smart.

 

 

Lawrence Rubin, psychologist and counseling professor, is co-author with psychiatrist Mike Brody of Messages: Self Help Through Popular Culture.

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