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Sherlock Psychology

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Jessica Hatt

on 16 June 2014

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Transcript of Sherlock Psychology

The Psychology of
By Jessica Hatt
The Premise of the Show
"Sherlock" is a modern BBC television adaptation of the classic crime solving detective series "The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is a consulting detective whose services are often utilized by the police. He uses his keen observation skills and intelligence to solve seemingly unsolvable crimes with the aid of his roommate Watson, a retired army doctor.
Social Psychology
Motivation and Emotion
"the process by which we perceive and respond to certain events called stressors, that we appraise as threatening or challenging"
Here, Watson is confronted by Sherlock's brother Mycroft in intimidating circumstances. Watson's hand is seen not to be shaking, a normal sign of stress that was seen by his therapist in a sitting calm conversation. In this situation where most people would interpret the confrontation of Mycroft as stressful and perceive it as threatening, Watson does not feel stress and instead is more comfortable in this challenging situation and reacts calmly.
Drive-Reduction Theory
"The idea that a physiological need creates roused tension state (a drive) that motivates an organism to satisfy the need"
Here, Sherlock displays this theory as he displays a need for external stimuli because he does not have a case to solve. This then produces the drive of boredom. He then acts to reduce this drive by shooting the wall with a gun in an attempt to reduce the drive of boredom.
Hierarchy of Needs
"Maslow's pyramid of human needs, beginning at the base with physiological needs that must first be satisfied before higher-level safety needs and then psychological needs become active"
In this scene, Sherlock answers to a level of the hierarchy of belongingness and love needs in needing to avoid loneliness and to belong and be accepted. He looks for this approval in John, his one and only friend. He goes out his way, not feeling or being concerned with esteem needs of the next level in order to meet his love needs.
General Adaptation Syndrome
"Selye's concept of the body's adaptive response to stress in three phases- alarm, resistance, exhaustion."
In the beginning of the scene, the little girl, recently rescued from being kidnapped, is in the end state of exhaustion after being removed from the position of stress. However, when Sherlock enters, she feels she is back in a position of stress because he looks similar to the man or men who kidnapped her. She then responds in the first phase of the general adaptation syndrome of alarm in the form of screaming.
Sexual Orientation
"An enduring sexual attraction toward members of either one's own sex (homosexual orientation) or the other sex (heterosexual orientation)"
Sex is a main motivator of behavior and in this scene John is trying to determine what sex motivates Sherlock. He asks questions regarding his relationship status that attempts to discover Sherlock's sexual orientation. He asks if he has a girlfriend or boyfriend to determine his sexual preference.
Bystander Effect
"The tendency for any given bystander to be less likely to give aid if other bystanders are present"
In this scene, the man in the middle talking on the phone had been kidnapped and held as ransom for Sherlock to solve a case. He was planted in the middle of London wearing a bomb and had a sniper trained on him. He did not move all day as per instructions of his kidnapper. Hundreds of people passed the spot where he was standing, vissably distressed and crying. Yet, not one of them stopped to help, obviously affected by the bystander effect and did nothing because of the other people who had also walked past.
Social Trap
"A situation in which the conflicting parties by each rationally pursing their self-interest, become caught in mutually destructive behavior"
In this scene, Sherlock and Moriarty (Sherlock's antagonist) are locked in a confrontation. Sherlock has a gun pulled on Moriarty and Moriarty has snipers directed at Sherlock. By the end of the scene, Sherlock directs his guns towards the bomb stuck in a social trap. He is resorting to a behavior (shooting the bomb) that would not only destroy his enemy but also destroy John and himself.
Central Route Persuasion
"Attitude change path in which interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts"
Sherlock uses central route persuasion to convince the women threatening John and his date (the woman bound and gagged) to be skeptical and uneasy so that she would respond with the favorable thought of not shooting anyone. He did that by having her focus on his argument of the danger of shooting inside the tunnel.
"An understood rule for accepted and expected behavior. Norms describe 'proper' behavior."
In this scene, Sherlock goes against several understood social norms. For example, John is visibly disgusted and shocked when he find the severed head in the fridge, It broke social norms and was unexpected. John also makes reference to how most people know that the earth revolves around the sun, yet Sherlock breaks the norm set by ordinary people and shows his lack in awareness of that elementary fact.
Frustration-Aggression Principle
"The principle that frustration- the blocking of an attempt to some goal-creates anger, which can generate aggression"
In this scene, John demonstrates the frustration-aggression principle. He has the goal of being able bodied and participate in the more entertaining going-ons of life. However, due to his limp this goal is block and he is unable to do what he would like to. This then created anger which is exploded towards Mrs. Hudson in the roaring of the phrase "Damn my leg!".
Testing and Individual Differences
Sternberg's Three Intelligences
The triarchic theory of intelligences in which defines success. It includes analytical, ability to find a single right answer; creative, creating novel ideas; and practical, solving problems with multiple solutions.
In this scene, the murderer demonstrates a lack an analytical academic problem solving in his lack of an ability to use grammar, an academic problem-solving notion. However, he does demonstrate creative intelligence in being able to quickly adapt to the new situation of displaying proper grammar.
"Defining meaningful scores by comparison with the performance of the pretested group"
Here, Sherlock and his brother, Mycroft discussed how as children they used their own form standardization when they compared Sherlock's intelligence to Mycroft's to describe meaning into it. In comparing his intelligence to Mycroft's, they thought he was stupid. However, when they widened the group of others similar ot themselves in age to compare themselves with, they found a new meaning to their intelligence.
Mental Age
"A measure of intelligence; the chronological age that most typically corresponds to a given level of performance."
In this scene, Sherlock is likened to a child who has not gone through primary school in his not knowing basic facts such as that the earth revolves around the sun. Therefore, his mental age, in that respect, does not match that of his actual age as he is lacking in knowledge of a typical person of his age.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
A score derived from one of several standardized from one of several; standardized tests designed to assess intelligence.
When Sherlock says to Anderson, an investigator,to shut up he refers to IQs. It functions as a point of reference for intelligence. Sherlock is implying that Anderson is so moronic that when he speaks and shares his thoughts and ideas, the comprehension and understanding ability around him lowers.
Emotional Intelligence
"The ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions"
John explodes at Sherlock for not telling him that Sherlock was still alive after his apparent suicide. This shows a lack of emotional intelligences as he fails to manage his angry feelings and to understand his own feelings. In his violent and expressive outrages, his emotional intelligence appears to be lacking.
Abnormal Psychology
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
"An anxiety disorder characterized by haunting memories, nightmares, social withdrawal, jumpy anxiety and/or insomnia that lingers for four weeks or more after a traumatic experience"
John shows signs of PTSD after returning from war in Afghanistan where he acted as an army doctor. After that traumatic experience of being in the midst of war, he experiences nightmares. This results in obvious insomnia. He is also withdrawn. He fails to make any friends in his return and acts secluded and uninvolved in society. He lacks any real human connections and relationships.
Post Traumatic Growth
"Positive psychological changes as a result of struggling with extremely challenging circumstances and life crises."
John was lead to believe that Sherlock had committed suicide. In having to watch his best friend kill himself, John was faced with what a psychologist would classify as "extremely challenging circumstances". However, John displayed post traumatic growth in moving on after the death to have a successful relationship with Mary, shown by their wedding depicted above, and a more positive attitude. This showed his growth in that he had recovered to a better state than before.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
"A personality disorder in which the person (usually a man) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing; formerly called sociopath or a psychopath"
Sherlock displays some symptoms of anti-personality disorder. He accepts the title of sociopath that was formally used to describe those who possessed this disorder. He is a male who displays a lack of conscious. This is most shown in his excitement and enthusiasm for murder, confronting them as a fun exciting new puzzle to solve not addressing how a person was lost and killed. He feels little emotion for the violation of the natural rights of other people.
"False beliefs, often of persecution or grandeur, that may accompany psychotic disorders"
In the pursuit of a case, Sherlock is exposed to chemical gases. They result in fragmented, bizarre and distorted visions and experiences. The chemicals create a psychological experience that is abnormal and frightening for Sherlock.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
" An anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or actions (compulsions)"
In this scene, Mycroft and Sherlock are analyzing one of Sherlock's clients based off of his hat. Sherlock deduces that the owner of the hat has obsessive compulsive disorder based on his repetitive action of repairing the hat after repeatedly gnawing on the ends. Mycroft however dismisses it as just a habit when he notes the lack of compulsivity in the client leaving it behind.
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