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Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and

the emotions of others. Some psychologists attempt to quantify it in different people in terms of
Emotional Quotient (EQ) in an attempt to align it with intelligence quotient (IQ). By this
definition, empathy must also play an important role in emotional intelligence. In my view,
Inside Out is really a study of Emotional Intelligence.
The premise of the film is simple. Were introduced to five characters: Joy, Sadness, Fear,
Anger, and Disgust (Disney decided not to include the sixth primary emotion surprise), who
represent core human emotions.

Joys goal has always been to make sure Riley stays happy. She is light-hearted, optimistic
and determined to find the fun in every situation. Joy sees challenges in Rileys life as
opportunities, and the less happy moments as hiccups on the way back to something great.
As long as Riley is happy, so is Joy.

Disgust is highly opinionated, extremely honest and prevents Riley from getting
poisoned both physically and socially. She keeps a careful eye on the people,
places and things that Riley comes into contact with whether thats broccoli or last
years fashion trend. Disgust always has the best of intentions and refuses to lower
her standards.

Fears main job is to protect Riley and keep her safe. He is constantly on the lookout
for potential disasters, and spends time evaluating the possible dangers, pitfalls and
risk involved in Rileys everyday activities. There are very few activities and events
that Fear does not find to be dangerous and possibly fatal

Anger feels very passionately about making sure things are fair for Riley. He
has a fiery spirit and tends to explode (literally) when things dont go as
planned. He is quick to overreact and has little patience for lifes

None of the other Emotions really understand what Sadnesss role is. Sadness would
love to be more optimistic and helpful in keeping Riley happy, but she finds it so hard
to be positive. Sometimes it seems like the best thing to do is just lie on the floor and
have a good cry.
After the emotions are described, another layer unfolds: We learn how Rileys personality is
formed throughout her early childhood, and how emotions play a part in that formation.
Important events like bonding with her father, being soothed by her mother, and reaching
developmental milestones create memories (Remember that memory is considered another
way of knowing in TOK). These memories (represented by luminous orbs collected in the
brains control centre) are the building blocks of Rileys fundamental personality traits (called
Islands by Joy). The Islands are named Family, Honesty, Friendship, Goofball, and Hockey.
Obviously, this concept is simplified as these arent meant to map exact personality traits but
they are similarly enduring, fundamental aspects of what makes Riley who she is. For
example, during her early years, through meaningful interactions with her father, she picks up
on his silly, playful sense of humor, and develops her own goofy characteristics that make up
Goofball Island (heres where we see that ones personality isnt just shaped by what we
experience its also inherited). The Islands look like distant, fantastically fun, mini amusement
parks and they are idiographic (relating to the study or discovery of particular, rather than
general, facts).
Further in the film, we begin to learn that interactions between emotions are telling. For
instance, Joy grows annoyed with Sadnesss constant negativity and hopelessness. She draws
a circle in the back of the control room and orders Sadness to stay inside of it, far away from
the control centers buttons, the other emotions, and any other aspect of the brain that could be
contaminated. Joy cant seem to see any value in Sadness, assigning her no real purpose or
responsibility in Rileys brain. In that moment, Joys doing what we regularly do: Try to avoid
sadness. In fact, its only human to push away the discomfort of sadness, grief, and anxiety.
Joys attempt to contain and even minimize Sadness is an incredibly relatable thing. Again, we
ask ourselves, are we better offsafer, happier, better human beingswhen we avoid
Along with Joy, we learn an important but hard-hitting fact. We dont need joy all the time. Its
OK to feel sad. Moreover, experiencing and processing sadness can actually prepare us for
the emotional challenges well face in the future. Its important for us to learn that we can
overcome feelings associated with pain and loss. This could mean we are better prepared
emotionally to deal with the impact of trauma, suffering, or grief.
In their Insider Access to Inside Out interview, the films director Pete Docter and voice actress
Amy Poehler (Joy) explained that many psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists were
involved in the creative process in order to establish some key components of the movie.
According to Docter, the fundamental point of the film is to show viewers that emotions can
drive thinking and behavior. Poehler added that the hardship Riley encounters is intended to
be more commonplace; moving to another town is something we can all relate to. She
described Inside Out as a teaching tool parents can use to help children learn the role of
Some guiding questions based on the film
1. When we meet Riley, most of the time Joy is in charge of her thoughts and personality.
Which emotion(s) do you feel most often and why?
2. Riley and her family go through a lot of changes when they move from Minnesota to
San Francisco. Have you ever gone through a big transition? Were emotions be a help
or a hindrance in this situation?
3. How are the glowing balls, or core memories made? What are yours?
4. What do the core memories have to do with Rileys personality? Do you think there is a
clear link between memory and emotion?
5. When Sadness touches one of the happy core memories, she colors it blue. What do
you think is going on then? Is it possible that our current moods can color our past
memories? Or how we define our personality?
6. Do you think that the core memories were changed forever or was there a temporary
filter on them?
7. When Rileys mother tells her that she is helping her parents by being their happy girl,
Riley feels pressure to only show them her joy. What do you think of this?
8. Do you think that our society values certain emotions over others? Which ones?
9. At the end of the movie, Joy learns that other emotions, especially Sadness, are also
important. Why?
10. Do you think it is easier for males or females, or for younger or older people, to express
different emotions? Which ones? Why?

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