Teaching Psychology with Seinfeld

While Seinfeld may allege to be a show about nothing, at ClassHook we think there’s plenty to mine when it comes to psychology. The neurotic exploits of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer provide potent material for any number of lessons on the subject. Here are some of our favorite clips for using Seinfeld to teach psychology:

1.Transference: George and Kramer Break Up

When Kramer acts as a proxy for George’s girlfriend and initiates a breakup, both friends have trouble separating the message from the messenger. This hilarious clip provides a light-hearted example of Freud’s influential theory.

2. Social Comparison Theory: Kramer Encourages Elaine

Elaine and Kramer both suffer crises of confidence: Elaine, at the prospect of single-handedly running the Peterman Company, Kramer, at taking on nine year olds in a Karate class. Through some upward and downward social comparisons, they attempt to psych the other up.

3. Superordinate Goals: Jerry the Mailman

Sworn enemies Jerry and Newman work together to achieve their mutual dream: Newman moving across the country! This Superordinate Goal effectively brings the two nemeses together to (temporarily) reduce conflict.

4. Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development: The Handicap Spot

The gang’s discussion about whether or not it’s ethical to park in a handicap spot walks us through Kohlberg’s three stages of moral development. See if students can identify which character’s perspective corresponds to which stage!

5. Cognitive Bias: Mini Cue Stick

When Kramer gets into a tight spot with a pool cue, he repurposes a baton to do the same job. This innovative kind of thinking is a great counter to the problem of functional fixedness.

Have a teachable Seinfeld moment in mind? Submit it to us here!

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