Audrey Wells wrote and directed the American romantic film Under the Tuscan Sun. Diana Lane plays the lead role of a writer who travels to a villa in a rural part of Tuscany after discovering her husband is cheating on her. It is based on the same-named 1996 novel. The three psychological concepts would be described in this essay: schemas, cognitive dissonance, and self-fulfilling prophecies.
Dissonance of cognition
This occurs when there are opposing attitudes, actions, and values in a situation. This, in turn, leads to a feeling of discomfort and uneasiness which leads to change of one of those attitudes and beliefs to ease that state of distress and imbalance (Cooper 130). Leon Festinger first studied this principle, and it arose out of observation into a theory by a cult that a flood would destroy the earth, and in particular those who had relinquished their homes and property to do work for the cult when the tide did not happen (McLeod n.d). In the film, cognitive dissonance is shown where Florence being a writer plagued with that problem. All writers dread to face at some point in their career, being unable to write. A lot of things are going wrong in her life.
Her love life hit the rocks, her emotions have been quelled, and most of all troubling is the fact that she is not sure what she ought to do. This imbalance in her life leads her to ask where in life she will get her emotional rebirth. Where can she start anew? Can she begin anew? Will she ever be able to find a contemporary version of Sangre reel, a well-defined modest model of balsam for the soul? This is clearly answered in the film when we see Florence move to Tuscany, in Italy by accepting the offer from her pregnant friend. The documentary vividly paints this part of the world as a haven where people were at peace and satisfied with the world reside. This may be because they accepted fate as it is, have achieved something of great forte, or are mainly pleased with their respective lives. The likes of the friendly polish renovated her house, and the bubbly aging British actress evoked the awe of mystery and beauty come to mind.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a thought or expectation bears fruition in one’s life because they thought of said expectation or belief. For example, in a classroom situation, a teacher may conclude that a certain student is not bright therefore give the student less positive attention thereby resulting in the child getting an even more miserable performance. With this, the teacher will have made the initial assumption of the child come to pass. Alternatively, it may apply to a student studying for a test. The anxiety caused by preparation may lead the student to carry the notion that he or her will do poorly on the exam. This anxiety may then cause the student to actually do poorly in the exam thereby facilitating the initial negative self-assessment (Fitzpatrick 59).
Self-prophecy can be directed at an individual, somebody else, or even inanimate objects but can drastically alter behavior (Rosenthal 332). In the film, we are shown an instance of this when Frances is first on tour sightseeing in Cortona. She notices a villa going on sale and thinks it is a lovely piece of house. When the bus she is on stops later to let a flock of sheep cross the road, Frances sees the villa again. This time she believes it is a sign and asks the driver of the bus to stop so she can get a better look at it. After telling herself it is what is best, and that it will give her another beginning in life, she finally purchases it and thereby finds herself the owner of a lovely dilapidated villa in gorgeous Tuscany.
Taylor (p.420) says that schemas are cognitive concepts or frameworks that usually help one recognize and interpret information. They are usually important as they allow people take shortcuts in inferring the large information that is always present in the environment. However, the mental frameworks that cause this are also guilty of making us ignore pertinent information in exchange of viable alternatives that enforce our individual pre-existing notions and ideas. The use of this socio-psychological principle was first advanced by one English psychologist named Fredrick Bartlett who stated that a network of mental structures is often what causes one’s understanding of the world.
A good example of this is when a little boy first develops a cat schema. He will know that a cat has large pointy ears, a furry tail, and four thin legs. Then when the small boy first comes into contact with a dog, he would be inclined to name it a cat. Because it adequately resembles the characteristics he knows a cat possesses; it has large pointy ears, a furry tail, and four thin legs. After he is corrected and informed that this animal is entirely different and is called a dog, he will almost immediately form a different schema for felines (Bellahsene 298). In the film, we are shown that Frances has already formed certain concepts about love that are immediately dispelled when she discovers that her husband has been cheating with a much-younger, pregnant new partner.
This throws her whole world upside down. She decides to move to Tuscany, Italy and here she tries her hand again at brief romance with Marcello. In another drastic turn of affairs, this does not work as well. Her friend, Patti, then visits her after her partner, Grace has left her. Almost giving up on love now that none of what she initially thought was working and her framework constituting the same had been questioned, she is approached for help by one of the polish workers she had befriended who had helped renovate her house.
The teenager, Pawel, is in dire straits after the father of the girl he wants to marry (Frances neighbor) does not approve of him. This is because he has Polish background and has no family of his own. Frances decides to help after seeing that what the two have is pure and innocent love, by agreeing to stand in as Pawel’s family. After all, she had been through; maybe she ought to rethink her whole perception about love. With this new outlook and a renewed framework concept backing her, she begins to see change and the film nears its end when she meets an American writer, and a romantic spark is instantly ignited in her.
Writer-director Audrey wells does a spectacular job in casting the films operetta of self-realization and remodeling travails against one of the best-looking scenery and environments the world has to offer. The film helps in telling the audience all about the different state of affairs life can give and applying practical solutions to the troubles that face most couples in the world, rethinking one’s approach and being open to change even when all seems to have failed to work.
Bellahsene, Z. “Tuning for Schema Matching. Schema Matching and Mapping,” 2010, pp 293-316.
Cooper, J. “classic theory of cognitive dissonance. L.A: Sage Publishers,” 2014; pp 124-136
Fitzpatrick, A. “Is this it?: how successful people get more life out of life. Stouffville, Ont.: 2013, Black Card Books. pp 56-74
McLeod, S. simple psychology. Retrieved from simplypsychology.org: https://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html.
Rosenthal, R. “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Human BehaviorEncyclopedia,” 2013. Pp 330-336.
Taylor, C. D.”Therapy Schema. Positive Clinical Psychology Wiley Handbook,” 2017, 419-422.