Forbidden Fruit

The film a Clockwork Orange directed by Stanley Kubrick was based on a novel by Anthoney Burgess which was published in 1962. In the novel Alex, a 15 year old, describes his experiences as a gang member and what happens to him after he is imprisoned for rape and murder. In the novel and film Alex uses a language called Nadsat, a type of slang used by teenagers that combines English slang with Russian. Nadsat means 'teen'.

Alex is clever, a leader, and likes classical music, especially Beethoven. One of the sources of inspiration for the novel were reports after the war that German concentration guards made Jewish musicians perform Beethoven to Jews waiting to be gassed. Alex also enjoys violence and is very aggressive.

In prison he participates in a new treatment to change the behaviour of aggressive and violent people. This is based on classical conditioning and is a form of aversion therapy. Alex is given drugs that make him feel sick when he sees images of aggressive behaviour. Music by Beethoven is also played as looks at these images. Later aggressive thoughts, acts, or even hearing music by Beethoven, make him feel sick. He is no longer able to be aggressive. He has become a clockwork orange.

This is an example of negative reinforcement. Alex has been conditioned to respond to aggressive thoughts and acts in a negative way. They make him ill. In order to avoid this feeling he stops having aggressive thoughts and stops acting aggressively. This changes his behaviour. He can no longer choose to act or not act aggressively. He has no free will.

The video clip below is a trailer for the film, A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971.

Watch the following clips.

Use Social Learning Theory to explain Alex's behaviour.

Use Deindividuation to explain Alex's behaviour.

Why can't you access some of these clips? Use Social Learning Theory to explain why.

Have a look at the Clockwork Orange activity on Blackboard. How would Social Learning Theory explain the copycat behaviour described?

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